The Neon Museum, known as one of Las Vegas’ most iconic and visually stunning museums telling the story of the city through its historic neon signs, welcomed an international audience to its inaugural Duck Duck Shed: Celebrating Las Vegas Architecture, Design, and Culture event.
The four-day event offered 30 individual programs that celebrated Las Vegas’ distinctive architecture from past to the present through walking tours, aerial tours, panel discussions with industry experts, and once-in-a-lifetime tours of Jungle Palace, the historic estate of Siegfried & Roy, a private home that has never been granted public access. The Neon Museum also debuted a new guided tour that highlights the architectural history of the buildings associated with the iconic signs in the Neon Boneyard.
The Neon Museum’s executive director, Aaron Berger noted that 17 of the 30 programs (57%) reached capacity, which exceeded the expectations for the first year, as did the draw from audiences worldwide.
“Over 50 percent of our ticketholders were from outside Southern Nevada,” added Berger. “We welcomed more than 2,800 attendees including visitors from The Netherlands, England, Canada, and Australia, as well as 27 states in the U.S. This remarkable response shows that there is definitely an appetite for learning more about Las Vegas’ incomparable, ever-evolving skyline as well as its efforts towards historic preservation.”
Duck Duck Shed presenters applauded the unique program line-up and how the event highlighted the importance and influence of Las Vegas’ architecture and design on culture for the first time.
“Las Vegas’ substantial expansion of Modernism’s fundamental concepts only recently began to gain full recognition in the architecture profession and academies. The first Duck Duck Shed this year was a valuable step on the part of the Neon Museum and the city’s cultural community to define and assert that role. It may have taken a while – it’s been 50 years since ‘Learning From Las Vegas’ was published – but maybe we have required that distance for people to drop old perceptions of Las Vegas as an anomaly and to reimagine Modernism in the light of 21st century technology, economics, and public life. Duck Duck Shed’s 2022 programming faced these issues head-on.” – Duck Duck Shed presenter Alan Hess, acclaimed author, urban planner, architect, and advocate for 20th century architectural preservation.
“Duck Duck Shed is a paradigm shift that elevates the architectural realms of Las Vegas to new heights, expanding the world’s view of the phenomenal city that we all know and love.” – Duck Duck Shed presenter Carmen Beals, associate curator and outreach director at the Nevada Museum of Art.
“Personally, I saw a shift in thinking in those that attended Duck Duck Shed from appreciating the architectural history of Las Vegas to realizing that this was heritage, and for locals and natives, their own heritage, that was being showcased with stories that they had not heard before. It stirred a passion in attendees to support and contribute to any work that ensures this history is captured, preserved, and made accessible to future generations.” -- Sarah Hulme, director of learning at The Neon Museum.
The name Duck Duck Shed is derived from themes first identified in the seminal text “Learning from Las Vegas” by Denise Scott Brown, Robert Venturi, and Steven Izenour, which celebrates its 50th year since its initial printing and is still considered required reading in many universities’ architecture programs. The authors penned the idea that buildings are either “ducks” that explicitly and literally represent their function through their unique shape and design, or “decorated sheds” that are buildings that require a sign to differentiate one from another. Examples of this academic concept over the course of Las Vegas history include the Tropicana which opened in 1957 and Resorts World that opened just last year as “decorated sheds,” and the Excalibur, Luxor and Circus Circus as “ducks.”
Duck Duck Shed is presented by The Neon Museum and sponsored by the Commission for the Las Vegas Centennial. With the success of its foundational year, The Neon Museum is planning to move forward with Duck Duck Shed as an annual event. Planning for Fall 2023 is underway.