The Neon Museum in Vegas offers guided tours in Spanish

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LAS VEGAS (AP) – As Marimar Rivera and Johann Rucker strolled along the winding dirt road at Neon Museum’s Boneyard, their faces were illuminated with glowing signs of Las Vegas’ past.

Speaking in Spanish, they described the history, construction and preservation of the signs.

Rucker and Rivera were training for the recent start of the all-Spanish tours at the downtown Las Vegas museum that features signs from old casinos and other businesses.

Over the years, some of the museum’s interpreters have translated tours into English at the request of Spanish-speaking guests. But Rivera said exclusive Spanish-style tours would serve a wider population.

“In the sense of our museum, especially in Las Vegas, especially in the community where we are located right now, we have to have accessibility,” she told the Las Vegas Sun. “If we’re a museum and we’re really trying to educate everyone who comes to our doors, we need to develop tours in other kinds of languages.”

The museum is a non-profit organization founded in 1996 that collects, preserves and studies the neon lights of Las Vegas, including the huge, bright, pink Moulin Rouge sign, designed by Betty Willis.

The Moulin Rouge Hotel and Casino was opened for several months in 1955 in the West Las Vegas neighborhood as the first racially integrated casino in the United States. desegregate the Las Vegas Strip.

Willis also designed the iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” marker on Las Vegas Boulevard in 1959. This sign was entered in the National Register in 2009.

Neon Boneyard’s main collection is a maze of these radiant signs as well as the location of museum tours.

Aaron Berger, executive director of the museum, said its many Spanish-speaking visitors were a major reason for offering the service.

“We have wanted to offer this to our visitors for years,” he said. “From my point of view this was really a hindrance and did not welcome all the participants who could pass by the Neon Museum and have the opportunity to explore, learn and have a good time in our facility. . “

In Clark County, 31.6% of the 2.3 million people are Hispanic or Latino, according to 2020 census data. Nevada’s 3 million people are over 29% Hispanic or Latino.

Rucker and Rivera said they worked closely with Matt Martelo, training supervisor and former museum interpreter, to organize tours in Spanish.

One aspect of the tour that they worked to refine, they said, was the type of Spanish they spoke.

Rucker’s family is from Mexico City, while Rivera is from Puerto Rico. Tina Romero, a third Spanish-speaking interpreter, is from Cuba.

Determining neutral and easy to translate Spanish was essential to ensure that the tour was understandable to Spanish speaking residents from different countries with diverse dialects.

“If we can be a little more welcoming to this part of the people of Las Vegas, I think that will only help our case as well,” Martelo said.

Just under a year after taking office, Rucker said he appreciated how quickly the museum adopted the idea.

“I don’t know why we wouldn’t try to get the wealth of information that we have with our wonderful collection, with all these perspectives that we have at the museum, to as many people as possible,” he said. he declares. “I think what I’m particularly proud of, I guess, is that now everyone can hopefully start to really, on a deep level, enjoy what we have to offer.”

Customer demand for Spanish tours will define future programming, Berger said.

All museum tours, in Spanish or English, last 45 minutes and tickets cost $ 28 per person, $ 24 for residents of Southern Nevada. Residents should specifically choose Spanish tours when ordering tickets online.


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