Experiencing Brilliant! at the Neon Museum

Last time I was in Las Vegas one of my must see attractions was the Neon Museum. The extensive outdoor space near downtown houses neon signs from the city’s storied casinos and more. The tour was everything I’d hoped it be and my sister, Shannon, and I agreed it was one of the highlights of our trip (along with the fascinating Mob Museum). This past weekend found me back in Vegas just in time to catch Brilliant! a nighttime show currently featured at the museum.

Brilliant! is a collaboration between the Neon Museum and visual artist Craig Winslow. I learned of the show just before visiting but couldn’t quite wrap my head around what it was. I knew it featured color and music but how did that connect to the museum? I was intrigued but didn’t know if I’d get around to checking it out.

Luckily, after I wrapped up my visit to Ethel M I had just enough time to catch the 7pm show. I purchased one of the last tickets available and headed over to the boneyard. It was super cold and windy but when I arrived I found a large group of folks eagerly anticipating the show. When the hour arrived we headed over the far yard and I was instantly excited as it was an area I hadn’t visited on my earlier visit.

If you haven’t been to the museum it truly is a treasure trove. Layers and layers of historic signs are artfully arranged in an outdoor space. The museum restores as many as it can but the process is expensive and labor intensive and the museum acquires signs quicker than they can restore them,.

Enter Brilliant! During the performance the signs are illuminated via 3D projections giving a glimpse of their colorful past lives.

Accompanying the illumination is a medley of Vegas-centric music from the Rat Pack, Elvis, Liberace and more. It was, in one word, magical.

An all encompassing experience it was both nostalgic and innovative. In one corner were videos of early Vegas and in another flashing neon. In the cold night Sinatra’s voice rang out with “Luck Be a Lady” and I found myself getting a bit choked up. My only complaint –  it was over too soon!

Brilliant! is a stunning exhibition of the magic of the Neon Museum and I’m so glad I took the time to view it. Next time you’re in Vegas be sure to check it out.

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