Museum of Neon Art, L.A.

Neon nabobs might enjoy this museum, located in downtown L.A. at 136 W. 4th St. (at Main). The space has roughly a dozen vintage neon signs, including the ones pictured here, as well as modern art that employs neon. And there are some awesome photos in the lobby.

Founded in 1981, the museum has bounced around and is now in its fourth location, and this one isn’t permanent either. But it’s been there since late 2007 and will be there for the forseeable future.

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I visited the previous location in 2005 after the Midway Building Materials sign in Montclair was donated to the museum, restored and put on display. The sign, formerly at Mission Holt and Ramona, depicts a brickmason wielding a trowel to lay a row of bricks. He appeared to move as the sign blinked.

Alas, the Midway man is now in storage because the sign was too large and too heavy to be moved into the new storefront location.

But if you think you might like the museum anyway, go for it. I went there Saturday via Metrolink and the Red Line subway; from the Pershing Square stop, it’s about three blocks on foot. If you go, Pete’s Cafe is a half-block to the east and highly recommended for a meal. The newly remodeled Cole’s is two blocks south.

Museum executive director Kim Koga was working the desk when I dropped in. She used to live out here, and still visits frequently, so you won’t be condescended to if you tell her you’re from, say, Upland. How many L.A. attractions can you say that about?

The museum website gives hours and other details. They’re doing a neon bus cruise on Valentine’s Day if you want an especially offbeat, if bright, outing.

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  • Sid Robinson

    The local ties to the Museum of Neon Art are pretty strong. Kim Koga and David Svenson put on a neon art and kinetic art show at the Los Angeles County Fair back in 1986. Formerly of Claremont, David (who is on the board of MONA) is the son of noted sculptor John Svenson…

  • Gino L. Filippi

    Thanks, Sid!

    Local sculptor John Svenson aka ‘the angry artist’ can be found hammering away on centuries-old redwood in his studio hidden amongst the shrubs in the outback of San Antonio Heights.

  • Duane

    David,
    Correction, the Midway sign was at the corner of Holt and Ramona.

    [You might be right. -- DA]

  • Don J

    No Dave, he’s right. I used to walk past there on my way to lunch (and the hookers who would stand near their parked cars with their trick babies in babyseats riding shotgun, but that’s another story).

    [I've confirmed it and changed the name. -- DA]