Since the North Hollywood station is the 'end of the line,' the 4-car train was waiting to depart. Manufactured by the Italian firm, Breda Costruzione Ferroviarie, Ltd, they have a sleek, silver art deco design; reminiscent of an Airstream trailer. The interiors are pretty standard for subway cars or city busses, but, again, very clean.

 

 

Once on board, we were surprised to see about 20 other passengers in each car. As we headed out of the station, and began to accelerate, we reached our cruising speed of 65 mph, and really started to feel the rush of public transportation. We chatted to a young man who was heading into downtown, and he commented that during the week, it's actually very crowded. Unlike the rumors and gossip that we've been exposed to, people are apparently using public transportation.

Security in the stations and trains is handled by LAPD, and we observed an officer on one car.

In about 30 minutes, we arrived a the Pershing Square station, which, according to my research, was closest to the Museum of Neon Art, or MONA, as it's called. But it was a good solid walk from the station; 5 blocks south, and 3 blocks west. And although it was a gorgeous, sunny day, there wasn't much happening on Hill Street.

 
Located in a large office building at the corner of Hope Street and Olympic Blvd., MONA has taken a small section of the ground floor. A really small section. It is one of the smallest museums we've visited. But cozy and enjoyable.
 

General admission: $5.00
Students aged 13 to 22 with ID and seniors 65+: $3.50
FREE for children under 12 and MONA Members

FREE admission for all on the second Thursday of every month from 5 to 8 PM

Print out any page from the MONA Web site
and present at the box office for a 2-for-1 discount on general admission!

We took advantage of the 2-for-1 discount, so only paid $5.00 admission. MONA is a nonprofit museum and so they encourage donations.

It's darkly lit, of course, to best showcase the neon lights, and begins with a bit of historical reference and neon factoids.

· The word neon comes from the Greek "neos," meaning "the new gas."

· 1910: Frenchman Georges Claude popularizes the neon sign

· 1923: Earle C. Anthony buys two neon "PACKARD" signs for his LA car dealership.

The neon signs with names [below] commemorate the donors of MONA. Very cute

 
 

Brian Coleman's work 'L.A. Angel' [below] was part of a larger exhibit called Gas & Glass Works. Other artists on display include Ron Carlson, Candice Gawne, Mundy Hepburn, Mark Joy, Ed Kirshner, Erika Kohr, and David Svenson.

 
 

David Swenson's Spirits Descending [below] hung from the ceiling

 

Patrons are allowed to get very close to the art, and it's fun to see how the artists have turned, bent, blown, shaped and otherwise artistically altered the average neon gas tube into wonderful pieces of art.

In the back, is a display of old, restored neon signs from around Southern California.

And since neon signs were popularized in L.A., it should come as no surprise that so many neon signs still exist. Van de Kamps bakery sign, Sears from Temple City, Zinke's shoe repair from Glendale, and a old Western Motel sign from Venice. [below]

 

In a small photo exhibit by Mark Swope entitled "L.A. Sign Structures" has some excellent black and white photos of old neon signs in Los Angeles.

Along with these two exhibits that run through September 12, 2003, MONA also holds bus tours around the city, to see actual neon signs around the LA area. Check their website for more information.

After a quick visit to the gift store, we were back on the street again.

The area around the museum, while perhaps bustling during the week, was deadsville. No restaurants or shops of any kind. When we asked the museum docent about lunch, he suggested we walk down to Figueroa to The Original Pantry restaurant. It just seemed too far.

So we headed back to the Metro station.

 
 
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