The Neon Museum announces Uri Vaknin as chairman of its board of trustees. He takes over for outgoing Board Chairman Mike PeQueen. Other newly elected executives on the museum’s board include Stevi Wara as vice-chair and Curt Carlson as secretary; Carlson previously served as vice-chair. Michael Cunningham, the board’s treasurer since 2018, remains installed in that position.
Vaknin, a passionate supporter of arts and culture who believes the arts play an important role in helping to create places where people want to live, has played an integral role as a member of the museum’s board of trustees since 2019, rising to the top in relatively short order as a result of his extraordinary leadership and vision. During his tenure, he helped bring the monumental exhibition, Lost Vegas: Tim Burton @ The Neon Museum, to the beloved downtown Las Vegas museum.
Vaknin, a principal at KRE Capital LLC, a private equity firm in Beverly Hills, California, oversees the firm’s largest investment. Originally consisting of five condominium communities comprising 1,300 residences in Las Vegas, the portfolio today includes Juhl in downtown Las Vegas and One Las Vegas on South Las Vegas Boulevard. Vaknin assumes full management, operational and sales and marketing for the portfolio and is responsible for the recent close-out of condominium sales at The Ogden and Spanish Palms.
A resident of Las Vegas since 2014, Vaknin has forged important relationships with key influencers in the city and has become a respected voice for development, the arts and downtown Las Vegas. He recently joined the board of directors for the Downtown Vegas Alliance and currently serves as its vice-chair.
In 2016, Vaknin established an Artist in Residence program at Juhl to provide live/work space to emerging local artists. The program, now in its sixth installment, has featured visual artists, writers, and architects throughout its four-year run. Vaknin is a former trustee for The Art Museum of Symphony Park, the art museum planned for downtown Las Vegas which recently joined forces with the Nevada Museum of Art (NMA), the state’s oldest cultural institution.
In addition to his involvement in real estate and arts organizations, Vaknin sat on the board of the Anti-Defamation League where he received the Daniel R. Ginsberg National Leadership Award in 2003. He currently serves as Treasurer on the Executive Committee of The Names Project – The AIDS Memorial Quilt.
“I would like to thank outgoing Chairman Mike PeQueen for his leadership,” said Vaknin. “With many extraordinary accomplishments behind us, I welcome the opportunity to guide the museum forward, finding substantive ways to increase its positive impact on staff, visitors, the local arts and cultural community, its downtown neighbors and each unique and valuable constituency the museum serves.”
A native Las Vegan, new Vice-Chair Stevi Wara has served on the museum’s board since 2014. Overseeing brand compliance and communications for Diamond Resorts International, she has managed more than 100 properties located across 12 countries.
Secretary Curt Carlson has served on the board since 2014. He serves as president and director of design at Knit. He also devotes his time and talent as a member of the executive board for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Nevada and serves on the National Association of Industrial and Office Parks’ sustainability and communications committees. Treasurer Michael Cunningham has served on the museum’s board since 2016 and is executive vice president – regional president at Bank of Nevada where he oversees commercial lending officers, relationship managers and other support services in the central Las Vegas Valley, including Downtown Las Vegas. Active in several organizations, Cunningham also serves on the boards of the Public Education Foundation Finance Committee and Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance.
ABOUT THE NEON MUSEUM
Founded in 1996, the Neon Museum is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to collecting, preserving, studying and exhibiting iconic Las Vegas signs for educational, historic, arts and cultural enrichment. It has been named “Best Museum” by Las Vegas Weekly, one of “Sin City’s Best Retro Sites” by MSN, “No. 1 Las Vegas Museum Sure to Entertain and Educate” by USA Today’s 10best.com, “One of the Top 10 Coolest Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do” by Forbes.com, one of the “Top 10 Historic Spots in Las Vegas” by Vegas.com; one of “15 Most Fascinating Museums in the U.S.” by VacationIdea.com; and earns a consistent 4.5 out of 5 rating on TripAdvisor. On its 2.27-acre campus, the Neon Museum houses an outdoor exhibition space known as the Neon Boneyard (“boneyard” is traditionally the name for an area where items no longer in use are stored); the North Gallery, home to the nighttime augmented-reality, audiovisual spectacle, “Brilliant!”; the Boulevard Gallery outdoor exhibit space; and its visitors’ center, housed inside the former La Concha Motel lobby. The museum collection also includes nine restored signs installed as public art throughout downtown Las Vegas. Public education, outreach, research, archival preservation and a grant-funded neon sign survey represent a selection of the museum’s ongoing projects. Both the Neon Boneyard and the La Concha Visitors’ Center are located at 770 Las Vegas Blvd. North in Las Vegas. Click here for tour schedules and pricing information. Follow on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.