Saved from the Junk Yard... Grauman's Chinese Theater Dragon Neon Sign Restoration

Saved from the Junk Yard... Grauman's Chinese Theater Dragon Neon Sign Restoration

The Museum of Modern Art (MONA), a non profit Art museum in Los Angeles, is launching a fundraising campaign to restore one of the neon dragons formerly on the iconic marquee at Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood.  For 43 years these neon dragons graced the theaters marquee with their glowing presence, which  is now the site of the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

According to MONA, in 2001, the theater's owners had planned to remove the iconic neon dragons and donate them to the museum. However, when the time came, the owners changed their mind and decided to move them to an outdoor storage yard. Although the marquees were in perfect, working condition when they were removed from the Chinese Theater, neglect took a heavy toll. For 6 years the signs sat ravaged by the elements and souvenir hunters. The owners decided to junk the dragons in 2007, but MONA officials found out about the signs' impending disposal, and were able to save them from heading to the dump.

Today, MONA has retained the one of the dragons and gifted the other to another local non-profit institution. The museum's goal  is to restore their dragon to its former glory in time to greet visitors at the grand opening of their new facility in Glendale in 2015. With the help of the public Mona hopes to raise the funds needed to restore the neon sign.

The restoration will entail three phases: the first will involve a thorough cleaning and stripping of rust and old paint off the 40 foot sign and then priming and repainting; the second requires new neon glass units fabrication by a skilled tube bender of the sign's 65 glass units in the original colors; and, the final phase includes recreation of the original animation sequence, wiring and the metal framework that will support the exhibit. The 1974 Mel Brooks classic "Blazing Saddles" will be used to view the animation of the neon tubing on the dragon and will help our restorers recreate the sequencing.
For more information about the campaign and to support the restoration, contact MONA

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