Museum of Vancouver exhibit shows city's history of vintage neon signs

Feb 6 2021, 3:08 am

Please note: As recommended by BC’s provincial health officials, gatherings of any kind and unessential travel in the province is not recommended at this time. Please adhere to COVID-19 health and safety measures, including proper physical distancing and frequent hand washing, and wearing a mask or face-covering in public indoor and retail spaces. If you are sick, please stay home. 


In the 1950s, tens of thousands of neon signs lit up Vancouver’s streets – even more than were displayed in Las Vegas.

While some residents saw the signs as a representation of big city life, others thought that 19,000 of them ruined the natural beauty of Vancouver.

An exhibit at the Museum of Vancouver (MOV) will immerse you in the city’s bright past and delve into the divide that changed its urban landscape.

Vancouver neon signs

Museum of Vancouver

On until spring 2022, Neon Vancouver | Ugly Vancouver features a collection of flashy signs dating back to the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. Some are being lit for the first time since they were recovered from junkyards.

From office furniture to funeral directors, the signs once appeared across an array of shops and businesses.

Amongst the bright lights is “the tale of how the city went through a war of aesthetics that resulted in a transition of the very way Vancouver imagines itself,” MOV’s website reads.

Vancouver neon signs

Museum of Vancouver

Neon Vancouver | Ugly Vancouver

When: Until spring 2022.
Where: Museum of Vancouver — 1100 Chestnut St, Vancouver
Tickets: Online

Zoe DemarcoZoe Demarco

+ Listed
+ Public Art
+ History
+ Urbanized
+ Curated
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