Early last year, the Kern County Museum’s neon sign collection consisted of eight, maybe nine signs.
A respectable number, but one that was about to grow.
One year later, the collection has expanded to 22, including some of Bakersfield’s most iconic signs.
“We have three signs left to restore and hang in the next couple of weeks,” said museum Director Mike McCoy, who has referred to the popular and nostalgic gas-lighted commercial art as “liquid fire.”
McCoy has focused so heavily on the museum’s neon sign collection for one big reason: Memories.
“Every one of the signs in our collection triggers memories,” he said. Like a special scent, or an old song, the neon signs take people back to sharing a French burger, fries and a cherry Coke beneath the glowing Andre’s sign, renting your first tux at Saba’s men’s wear or dipping into a hot-fudge sundae at Dewar’s.”
The museum is planning for a public unveiling of its expanded Neon Courtyard in the coming months that they plan to call “Get Lit”.