NEON MUSEUM PRESENTS EXHIBIT HONORING “WECOME TO
FABULOUS LAS VEGAS” SIGN DESIGNER BETTY WILLIS AT
OVERTON’S LOST CITY MUSEUM, NOW – AUG. 30
The Neon Museum honors renowned sign designer Betty Willis in a small exhibit at the Lost City Museum in Overton, Nevada. Willis designed Las Vegas’ most iconic emblem, the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign, as well as the distinctive signs for the Moulin Rouge and the Blue Angel Motel, among others. The exhibit features images of signs in the Neon Museum collection and a limited-edition lithograph of the Welcome sign autographed by Betty Willis and photographer William Hannapple.
Las Vegas native Betty Willis designed Las Vegas’ most iconic emblem, the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign.
Born in Overton, Nevada, in 1924, Willis was the eighth child of Stephen Whitehead, Clark County’s first assessor. Willis attended art school in Los Angeles prior to returning to Las Vegas to work as a commercial artist. She began her career drawing illustrations of showgirls for production show advertisements in newspapers, but eventually transitioned to designing neon signs.
The concept of creating a welcome sign for the city was first envisioned by local salesman Ted Rogich, who approached Willis with the request to design a sign substantial enough to serve as the gateway to the city. Willis never copyrighted the sign, instead hoping it would be used freely to promote the city. She and Rogich sold it to Clark County officials when it was completed in 1959 for $4,000.
An employee at Western Neon and one of the only women employed in the commercial sign design industry at the time of the creation of the Welcome sign, Willis also designed the distinctive signs for the Moulin Rouge, Blue Angel Motel and Bow and Arrow Motel. She continued designing signs until her retirement at age 77. She passed away in 2015 at age 91.
Now – August 30, 2017
Open daily, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Lost City Museum
721 S. Moapa Valley Boulevard
Overton, Nevada 89040
Take Interstate 15 north to exit 93. Access is also available from Lake Mead National Recreation Area or the Valley of Fire State Park. For more information, call the museum at (702) 397-2193 or visit Facebook.
Admission is $5 for adults; children 17 and younger, as well as museum members, enter for free.
For more information about the Neon Museum, go to www.neonmuseum.org or call (702) 387-6366.
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 USAToday’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, used mainly for education programs and special events; the new Boulevard Gallery outdoor exhibit and event 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 and one restored sign on view at the outdoor Fashion Show Plaza on the Las Vegas Strip. 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. For tour schedules and pricing information, visit neonmuseum.org.