By Jason KUROSU
The groundbreaking for the Museum of Neon Art (MONA) on Nov. 13 brought Glendale city officials and members of the art community out for what will be Glendale’s first art museum, located in the heart of the city on Brand Boulevard.
Like a flag planted into unclaimed territory, a shovel with the blade framed by neon bulbs awaited the ceremonial groundbreaking. Speakers detailed MONA’s long journey from its inception in 1981 to the four separate sites it occupied throughout Los Angeles before its future home in Glendale.
Kim Koga, executive director of MONA, described the vision for the museum as “a receptacle for all things neon both contemporary and vintage, a place to teach this unique and very Americana art form and a place to reveal the science behind the neon.”
Started by a group of neon artists, the nomadic museum has moved from location to location over the past 32 years until 2011 when Glendale agreed to construction at 216 Brand Blvd.
The museum would fit in with the city’s plan to establish an arts and culture district, an effort towards the promotion of art that has included attracting creative businesses to Glendale.
City Councilmember Laura Friedman said MONA’s construction was yet another sign of Glendale’s ascension as a city, especially concerning the arts.
“All you have to do is look around to see that downtown Glendale is booming,” said Friedman, referring to increased business within downtown. In addition to business, Friedman said, “You have to have cultural amenities as well.”
MONA officials are also holding fundraisers to raise $1.5 million to “complete the interior build-out of the space and fund new programming,” according to Koga.
Members of MONA were excited about the future of the “little storefront on Traction Avenue downtown with a neon Mona Lisa glowing out front,” as described by Adrine Biondo, liaison for MONA’s board of trustees.
“I was intrigued by the little museum, never dreaming that I’d be standing here 32 years later as MONA becomes a vibrant part of Glendale’s exciting new arts district,” said Biondo.
David Svenson, president of MONA’s board of trustees, said the museum had been through a “long haul,” but Svenson was happy that MONA had finally found a home.
“It seems like Glendale is the perfect fit for MONA,” said Svenson.