Dragon Neon: Saving a Hollywood Icon

The Museum of Neon Art raises funds to restore a famous part of the Chinese Theatre.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Museum of Neon Art
    Remember the Grauman's Chinese Theatre dragons? The Museum of Neon Art has a campaign on to fund the restoration of the West-facing dragon, which will be displayed at MONA's future Glendale home.

    Visitors to older landmark structures often have the same conversation again and again and again. And it always starts with "my, how things have changed over the years."

    Mostly we cite what's now missing from a building we grew up patronizing: a spinning sign, a colorful window, or a pair of neon dragons.

    Did you just flash back to the Grauman's Chinese Theatre of the 1960s or '70s upon reading the words "neon dragons"? As expected. The Hollywood movie palace once boasted a famous pair, two hue-saturated beasties that lit the entrance for 43 years.

    The dragons' reign ended in 2001 when they were taken down during a refurbishment and stowed in an outdoor storage yard. After some twists and turns -- like any good movie might have -- the dragons were donated to the Museum of Neon Art in 2007.

    MONA kept one -- the West-facing dragon-- and "gifted the East-Facing one to another local non-profit institution."

    The museum, which is set to open its Glendale home near the start of 2015, is now looking to restore its West-facing dragon to its former luminous glory, a glory that has dimmed due to the many years it sat in outdoor storage.

    In short? You can help out. Donations are being accepted through Oct. 10 via an indiegogo campaign. And there are goodies for the kind-hearted neon lovers who help out. Like? Well, give $50 and nab a cool lenticular postcard of the neon sign. Spend $500 and receive a "limited edition giclee print by Tom Zimmerman Photography." There are a number of levels to choose from.

    The goal is $35,000.

    And what will become of the West-facing dragon once it is brought back to its sparkly self? It will live on in Glendale, at the new MONA location.

    So what needs to be done. Cleaning, buffing, and new paint are part of the process, a process which is sure to earn the label "painstaking."

    How many films did you see at The Chinese after passing through the dragons' entrance? Forty? Fifty? Things do change, over time, but sometimes they simply change locations, from Hollywood to Glendale.