Museum of Neon Art breaks ground at new location in Glendale


Deep in the heart of Pomona, locked away in a dark, dusty warehouse is a rare collection of art, just a flick and a hum away from brightening your day.

"It's neon. Neon is this living thing and it just gets your eye," said David Svenson, who is on the board of the Museum of Neon Art.

Its pieces stretch from an RCA Victor marquee to a sign that once graced the Brown Derby restaurant. In between are other much-adored examples of neon nostalgia from a brightly-colored past.

"There's something about the energy in the air from the neon transformers that gets you pretty hopped up about the color, and the light and the energy field around it," said Svenson.

But even though MONA is a museum with some of Southern California's most iconic pieces of neon art, it's a museum without an actual museum. Right now, it's all just packed away in storage.

That's because MONA's old home in downtown Los Angeles shut its doors back in 2011. Since then, dust has been its primary audience. But that's soon to change. Ground officially broke at the museum's new home in downtown Glendale on Wednesday.

The building on Brand Avenue today is not much to look at. But when crews are done about a year from now, the new MONA is expected to shine like a neon beacon right in the middle of Glendale's prime shopping district.

"Culture and economics are tied together in any city. People don't just go to a city because we have Bloomingdales and Nordstrom. They want more. They want a cultural experience," said Glendale City Councilmember Laura Friedman. "This museum draws people from all over the world."

Svenson says the museum still needs to raise about $1.5 million more before they can move in and plug in. But they're confident it will happen and they're eager to get things "glowing."

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