By Jason KUROSU
Once a purely nomadic endeavor, the Museum of Neon Art (MONA) took the next step towards establishing a permanent home in Glendale on Thursday night. MONA founders and board members took part in a lighting ceremony in front of the site in the 200 block of South Brand Boulevard, illuminating the diver sign atop the future Museum of Neon Art, signaling the completion of the building’s exterior.
After signing a lease agreement with Glendale in 2011, the site broke ground last November. The interior of the museum remains in construction, but the rooftop diver was lit Thursday night, showcasing what MONA supporters hope will become an iconic symbol of the museum for years to come.
Many of those supporters gathered on a double-decker bus parked outside of the museum. The bus is part of MONA’s Neon Cruise, which provides passengers with a historical take on neon signs on buildings throughout the city. Neon Cruises can be booked online.
MONA board member Eric Lynxwiler took attendees on an abbreviated cruise along Brand Boulevard and Central Avenue. Lynxwiler described the nuances and details of neon signs around Glendale, all while wearing an orange construction suit in recognition of the ongoing construction of MONA.
Previously, the museum was housed in several locations around Los Angeles since its founding in 1981. David Svenson, MONA board president, celebrated MONA’s newfound stability.
“This has been 35 years in the making,” said Svenson. “We’ve moved around from place to place, but finally we have a home. I cannot believe it.”
Kim Koga, director of MONA, recalled the long journey that brought MONA to Glendale.
“Five and a half years ago, we first met with the city of Glendale,” Koga told passengers on the second level of the Neon Cruise. “After countless meetings, a crashed California economy and other unforeseen events, here we are today with this awesome building.”
Paula Devine, the most recently elected member of the Glendale City Council, called MONA the “anchor for Glendale’s arts and entertainment district.”
“It’s not only going to be about looking at all this wonderful art, but also learning the history and the science behind these luminous tubes,” said Devine.
The museum features over 100 neon signs, including the diver, a replica of a Mississippi hotel sign.
“The first of many neon signs to come to Glendale,” Lynxwiler called it, before kicking off Thursday night’s tour.
For more information on MONA, visit www.neonmona.org.