The Art of Signage: Our Visit to the Museum of Neon Art in Glendale

The Art of Signage: Our Visit to the Museum of Neon Art in Glendale

At Signature Signs, we’ve always believed that signage is more than just a means of identification—it’s an art form. Our recent trip to the Museum of Neon Art (MONA) in Glendale, CA, reinforced this belief and offered a profound reminder of the artistic and historical significance of neon signage. Here’s a glimpse into our visit and why MONA should be on everyone’s must-visit list.

A Hidden Gem

Let's start off by saying what an incredible hidden gem MONA is. Nestled across from the Americana in Glendale, MONA is a treasure trove of neon art, historic signage, and kinetic sculptures. It’s the perfect spot for a day out, where you can enjoy the vibrant displays at the museum and grab a bite at one of the many eateries nearby. There's lots to see and do for adults and kids, the museum is very family friendly, but keep a close eye on your little ones since neon tubes are fragile.

Surrounded by the Glow!

Walking through MONA, we were struck by the creative brilliance and craftsmanship that goes into neon signage. The museum’s exhibitions, featuring both permanent and rotating displays, highlight works by some of the most notable names in neon art, including Michael Flechtner, Roxy Rose Score, and Larry Albright. The current exhibition, “Larry Albright: A Great Magic Truth,” showcases Albright’s unique style through plasma sculptures, miniature neon sets, and clips from iconic films like Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Blade Runner. It’s a testament to how art and science can intertwine to create something truly magical.

At Signature Signs we're fortunate to create beautiful signs for our customers every day, but seeing examples of historically great signage is nothing but inspiring. The museum's permanent collection isn't all out on display, it's constantly being rotated through the building and the museum's storage facilities, but there's alway something stunning on display. Here's a glimpse of what we saw: 

MONA's permanent neon sign collection
MONA's permanent neon sign collection

The Importance of Preservation

One of the most eye-opening aspects of our visit was learning about the fate of many historic neon signs. It was shocking to discover that many beautiful, even historic neon signs have been discarded, only to be rescued from dumpsters by the dedicated team at MONA. These restored pieces, now proudly displayed at the museum, emphasize the crucial work MONA is doing to preserve this significant part of our cultural heritage. As a sign company, we’re inspired to support sign restoration and promote signage as a valuable art form.

Engaging with Neon Art

MONA isn’t just about viewing neon art; it’s also about engaging with it. The museum offers neon art classes and community events, providing a hands-on opportunity to learn the craft. If you're ready to roll up your sleeves, MONA offers Bend, Blow and Glow Workshop, an 8-week course where students learn the foundational skills of neon bending. This includes cutting, welding, and bending glass tubing to create block letters. Participants get hands-on with various torches used in neon fabrication, such as the ribbon burner, the crossfire, and the hand torch. After completing the course you'll be ready to join the crew at Signature Signs, if you so choose ;-) 

MONA's Workshop -- used for classes and community events.

Take a Tour, or Two!

In addition to their stunning museum exhibits and workshop, the Museum of Neon Art (MONA) offers two exceptional tours that take you beyond their Glendale location to explore the vibrant neon landscape of Los Angeles.

The Neon Cruise is a nighttime double-decker bus tour that takes participants through historic neon signs and permanent installations of contemporary neon art across downtown Los Angeles and Hollywood. For a more intimate experience, MONA offers the Neon Night Walks—guided walking tours limited to 15 participants. These tours weave through various neighborhoods in Los Angeles County, including Glendale, Koreatown, Hollywood, Downtown LA’s Broadway Theatre District, and Chinatown. Each hour-and-a-half-long walk, led by MONA’s guides, delves into the history of neon and the local architectural landscape.

Both the Neon Cruise and Neon Night Walks offer unique opportunities to see Los Angeles in a different light, celebrating the city’s rich neon heritage and the stories behind these luminous artworks. For more information, dates, restrictions, etc. and to schedule a tour, visit MONA’s website.

Art, Technology & Signage

If you’re in the LA area, we highly recommend a visit to MONA—you won’t be disappointed. If you're sign pros like us, you'll leave inspired, and if you've never thought of signage as art, you'll leave amazed. We've always thought of signage as a synergy of art and technology, and there's no shortage of innovation taking shape now. Looking back at where we came from is a much-needed reminder of the incredible artistic legacy we have to draw on to do our best work. We'll leave you with a few more snapshots from our trip to the museum :-)

The Museum of Neon Art (MONA) is located at 216 S Brand Blvd, Glendale, CA 91204. Museum hours are Thursday 12–7 PM, Friday 12–7 PM, Saturday 12–7 PM and Sunday 12–5 PM.