Friday, March 24, 2017

[Road Trip] Museum of Neon Art, Glendale, CA

Founded in 1981 the Museum of Neon Art is a definite treasure of Southern California. The Museum of Neon Art "encourages learning, curiosity and expression through the preservation, collection and interpretation of neon, electric and kinetic art. Neon is a gateway between scientific principles and artistic expression. Neon illumination integrates electrical technology, creative design, and fundamental concepts of physics and chemistry."

The Museum of Neon Art currently holds the distinction of being the only museum in the world devoted exclusively to art in electric media, exhibiting electric and kinetic fine art, and outstanding examples of historic neon signs, for over 30 years. Which may sound like hyperbole, but I found it to be an apt description.

Presently, their main exhibit is the art of plasma, which I found extremely fascinating. It's on display until July 30th, and well worth the visit no matter what your artistic discipline. There's much to consider with this medium, and I'd love to see how Lao artists might take on such a form even as it would require an engagement with the sciences and the humanities in a way that not all of us have ready access to.

It's been 18 years since the Museum of Neon Art last presented an exhibit on plasma, and director Kim Koga was a wonderful host during my visit recently, putting it all into context.

Here are just a handful of the amazing and wonderful displays I saw:

I particularly appreciated this because we often think of neon art as a very two dimensional affair to appreciate primarily from a single angle, but here the plasma art made a very good case that much of it must be seen from 360 degrees, and the very best pieces allow for tactile engagement, although the general public rarely gets to do so. Private collectors would do well to obtain such wonders.

Presently, the MONA is open only from Thursday to Sunday, typically from noon until 7pm, except for 5pm on Sunday. Admission is typically $10 or $5 if you're a Glendale resident. Children under 12 can come for free. It's located at 216 Brand Street and is near some good restaurants and shopping before or after.

Parking is somewhat tricky because the back lots behind the museum fill up fast, but it is not impossible.  $35 also gets you a year's membership, which I think is more than reasonable to preserve such treasures.

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