The following is just a small excerpt from the interview:

Matthias Ries:
What are your curatorial guidelines? Which signs do you take into the collection, which do you refuse?

Danielle Kelly:
Whenever a sign is potentially going to be taken into the collection, we have a number of guidelines that we look at. So we look at for example, when was the sign built, what is the property that it was located at – the casino resort, the business, the small local business, the restaurant. Was it significant in some way or what made it significant. What is the story about the sign that is important to the story of signs in general, but also signs in Las Vegas. We look at who designed it. We look at the actual design of the sign; maybe it’s a motel sign that might seem very insignificant, a simple rectangular cabinet with blocky “MOTEL” spelled out. But that actually is a wonderful example of a very utilitarian working sign. Another might be a sign that is again a motel, but maybe we take it in because beautifully constructed or it was designed by someone very famous. So these are all things we look at.
The other thing is in terms that the way the neon boneyard collection is designed. It is designed to support our guided tour. We are a tour based museum. So previously our storage space that we gave tours through wasn’t by design. This [editors note: the new outdoor space and current museum] – all of the signs are placed to support the tour. Also it may not appear, we have galleries of signs within the neon boneyard. We have a collection of signs from only Downtown or Old Las Vegas, we have motels, we have small local businesses, we have The Strip [editors note: “The Strip” is the main street of modern Las Vegas, where all the major and big casino resorts are located alongside.]. So there is a real design to what signs are grouped together, but also where they are placed within the visual experience of looking at them. A sign with more cutaways, with more of an opportunity to look through it, will be placed in front of a bigger, blockier sign to allow for that layering of visual experience. A sign that is more abject with more peeling paint and that sort of thing might be placed next to a sign that is in more pristine condition, so that there is that experience of looking at those two signs in these two conditions, that is also kind of visually exciting, in addition to the actual intentionality behind the placement to support a tour and to tell a story about signage. Because signs were designed to be looked at and they have a message each of there own to give. And although we contextualize here by creating this very dynamic visual setting and placement of the signs we hope that in some way to serve this original purpose.

Matthias Ries:
You just told us that this setting is somewhat fix and that there’s a history being told. Many of your signs take up a lot of space. How do you deal with a constantly growing collection also in respect to these settings [that you have mentioned]? I imagine that [for example] this setting doesn’t allow any additional bigger signs. So do you think about an extension or do you have a storage archive – like a building with all the signs that are not publicly shown? Do you have changing collections [/exhibitions]?

Danielle Kelly:
We have multiple storage locations, close by the museum and also far away from the museum. Signs are very, very, very, very big objects. Some of them are not very big, but it’s definitely a unique challenge in storing them; finding room for them. This is a permanent collection, although, whenever and wherever possible, we do change out smaller signs or add signs where there is room. We restore signs where possible, so that offers another kind of opportunity to experience the signs but also that’s a part of conservation efforts, which is very important to the collection and to the museum as well. Storage is something that is a constant. It’s a living thing, that we are constantly negotiating.

Matthias Ries:
Storage is also quite an expensive thing…

Danielle Kelly:
It can be, yeah…

Matthias Ries:
Do you also have signs that made it to the collection once and then one day you have put them to the trash. Or are all the signs that [once] made it to the archive, stay in the archive?

Danielle Kelly:
Almost everything stays in the archive. The only time a sign would be deaccessioned is if it’s simply just really in a place where it is beyond repair for future. We think always about the bigger picture of the story the collection tells and future hopes to display all of the signs in the collection, but some signs just perhaps came in in rough condition and will perhaps be really difficult to return to their previous condition.

Matthias Ries:
In one of your radio interviews, you were talking about the Sahara sign [editors note: the Sahara casino and hotel was one of the old days casinos. It opened 1959 and shut it’s doors in 2011]. You said the Saharas main sign was too big for the museum. So this sign will be gone forever. The sign that you now have [in The Neon Museum] is from the back door [editors note: still pretty big, but much smaller]. How often do you have to make decisions like this?

Danielle Kelly:
Those kinds of decisions happen with every accession. An accession to the collection can sometimes be a difficult decision process. We have to think about space; and again we have to think about our needs, the needs of the community and the story we are trying to tell. So an example of that would be the Sahara sign. The large signs, that are the marquee signs on the Strip [editors note: the main street in Las Vegas] for casino resorts, they are called pylon signs. They are very, very, very, very, very, big. Very big. They are the size of tall buildings and often they are just too large to take into the collection. It’s also cost prohibitive. It can cost six figures to remove a sign like that; in the hundreds of thousands of dollars to remove a sign like that. We are non-profit, I mean we don’t have that kind of money. But what we can do is look with thoughtful eyes at all of the signage of a property and say – as again in the case of the Sahara – well, that main, marquee, pylon sign is too big for the collection and is cost prohibitive, but the sign over the porte-cochère at the back entrance is an exact replica of the pylon sign and it is a sign that we can immediately place in the collection and it tells the story that the pylon said, just with a different economy of scale.

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