Exhibitions

Neon Vancouver | Ugly Vancouver

Permanent Exhibition

Visitors will get a glimpse of Vancouver’s big city lights of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s in this exhibition of the MOV’s neon sign collection. The remarkable signs, some lit for the first time since they were rescued from the junk yard, are accompanied by the tale of how the city went through a war of aesthetics that resulted in a transition of the very way Vancouver imagines itself.

In this period Vancouver had approximately 19,000 signs. While some thought they signaled glamour, excitement, and big city living, others thought it was a tawdry display that disfigured the city’s natural beauty. The result was a deep civic controversy – explored in this unique exhibition of a turning point in Vancouver’s history.

Curator:   Joan Seidl
Design:    Resolve Design
Photos:    Rebecca Blissett and Amanda McCuaig

Related Programming
Join us for a Curator's Talk and Tour on the first Thursday of each month to get the in-depth scoop on the tension behind neon signs in Vancouver.

 

For Families
Pick up a self-guided tour worksheet when you purchase your admission and your family will have a great time matching shapes, finding the location of old signs, solving word jumbles, and even doing a word search!

Take the exhibition home with you!
Pick up the Neon Vancouver | Ugly Vancouver exhibition catalogue today at the MOV or at Vancouver Special (3612 Main Street)!

 

November 03, 2011 / 7:00 PM
Curator's Talk & Tour - Neon Vancouver/Ugly Vancouver

Did Vancouver’s flashing neon signs signal glamour, excitement and big city living?  Or was neon part of a tawdry display that disfigured Vancouver’s natural beauty?

Joan Seidl, Director of Collections and curator of Neon Vancouver, will delve into this question an more, in this in-depth talk and tour.  Learn more about the history of the signs in the exhibit, Vancouver’s evolving hate/love relationship with neon, and how MOV came to hold a significant neon collection.

Included with Admission | MOV Members free.

December 01, 2011 / 7:00 PM
Curator's Talk & Tour - Neon Vancouver/Ugly Vancouver

Neon was one highly visible sign of Vancouver’s transition from a sleepy west coast port into a striving, happening city. Neon became a lightening rod for critics of change, and at the same time, became the focus of a civic conversation about values in Vancouver.

Explore these topics in depth with Joan Seidl, Director of Collections at MOV and curator of Neon Vancouver, during an in-depth talk and tour of the exhibit.  Learn more about the history of the signs in the exhibit, Vancouver’s evolving hate/love relationship with neon, and how MOV came to hold a significant neon collection.

Included with Admission | MOV Members free.

January 05, 2012 / 7:00 PM
Curator's Talk & Tour - Neon Vancouver/Ugly Vancouver

Did Vancouver’s flashing neon signs signal glamour, excitement and big city living?  Or was neon part of a tawdry display that disfigured Vancouver’s natural beauty?

Joan Seidl, Director of Collections and curator of Neon Vancouver, will delve into this question an more, in this in-depth talk and tour.  Learn more about the history of the signs in the exhibit, Vancouver’s evolving hate/love relationship with neon, and how MOV came to hold a significant neon collection.

Included with Admission | MOV Members free.

February 02, 2012 / 7:00 PM
Curator's Talk & Tour - Neon Vancouver/Ugly Vancouver

Did Vancouver’s flashing neon signs signal glamour, excitement and big city living?  Or was neon part of a tawdry display that disfigured Vancouver’s natural beauty?

Joan Seidl, Director of Collections and curator of Neon Vancouver, will delve into this question an more, in this in-depth talk and tour.  Learn more about the history of the signs in the exhibit, Vancouver’s evolving hate/love relationship with neon, and how MOV came to hold a significant neon collection.

Included with Admission | MOV Members free.

March 01, 2012 / 7:00 PM
Curator's Talk & Tour - Neon Vancouver/Ugly Vancouver

Did Vancouver’s flashing neon signs signal glamour, excitement and big city living?  Or was neon part of a tawdry display that disfigured Vancouver’s natural beauty?

Joan Seidl, Director of Collections and curator of Neon Vancouver, will delve into this question an more, in this in-depth talk and tour.  Learn more about the history of the signs in the exhibit, Vancouver’s evolving hate/love relationship with neon, and how MOV came to hold a significant neon collection.

Included with Admission | MOV Members free.

May 24, 2012 / 6:00 PM
Vintage Voltage: MOV Youth Council 2012 Showcase
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Join this year's MOV Youth Council as they unveil their multimedia projects and celebrate the conclusion of their 8 week "Inside the MOV" Youth Council experience!

An evening of celebrating Youth Creativity in Vancouver, the program will feature live music, a curator's tour of the Neon/Ugly Vancouver exhibition, an Art station, food, and a screening of youth-made films.

Event is free, but requires RSVP to gmilne@museumofvancouver.ca
 

Video (Posted: 15/11/11)

Neon Vancouver | Ugly Vancouver on Studio 4 with Fanny Keifer

Director, Exhibitions & Collections Museum of Vancouver, Joan Seidl, speaks with Studio 4 with Host Fanny Kiefer about Neon Vancouver | Ugly Vancouver. The Museum of Vancouver presents a fascinating look at the rapid growth of neon signs throughout the 50s, 60s and 70s, and the visual purity crusade that virtually banished them from Vancouver streets.
Video (Posted: 16/04/12)

Green Couch Sessions w/ Adaline in the Neon/Ugly gallery

Artist: Adaline with Adrian Glynn, Song: The Noise [Text from Green Couch Sessions] Since Adaline's album dropped earlier this year we have had "The Noise" on repeat. We sing it to each other and dance around to it's edgy lyrics and haunting tone. The natural hummm of the Neon Exhibit at The Museum of Vancouver made for a perfect audio and visual backdrop for this super charged session. Not only did we rock out in the Neon room but we got to explore the vintage clothing exhibit happening in the gallery next door. It was one of the best Monday mornings the Green Couch has ever had.
Video (Posted: 15/11/11)

Neon Vancouver | Ugly Vancouver interview with Novus TV

Maike Evers from Novus TV's City Lights program talks with the MOV about the Neon Vancouver | Ugly Vancouver exhibition.
Video (Posted: 15/11/11)
Neon Vancouver | Ugly Vancouver on Studio 4 with Fanny Keifer
Video (Posted: 16/04/12)
Green Couch Sessions w/ Adaline in the Neon/Ugly gallery
Video (Posted: 15/11/11)
Neon Vancouver | Ugly Vancouver interview with Novus TV
Video (Posted: 21/11/11)
Neon Vancouver | Ugly Vancouver on the Express
December 29, 2011 / 10:27 AM
Neon Vancouver | Ugly Vancouver Press Kit

The Press Kit for Neon Vancouver | Ugly Vancouver includes:

  • the press release
  • biographies of the curator, Joan Seidl, and exhibition designers

For high resolution photos and media inquiries, please contact:

Amanda McCuaig
Marketing Officer