San Francisco Neon

creating neon culture/community

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save the date: September 25-26-27
Neon Speaks
September 2020
San Francisco—OAKLAND


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Neon Speaks is an annual program of

Neon Speaks APRIL 2019

Thanks to everyone who participated in Neon Speaks 2019! This year's festival exceeded our expectations.
It was a whirl of a weekend: neon talks, demos, case studies, restoration tips, shop tours, walking tours, book signings, films, and action items for creating a future where neon survives and thrives…


Main Program Events
Covered by 3-Day Pass


Neon Curiosity Lounge

Tenderloin Museum, SF

1–4 PM  Friday April 26 2019    
Part art exhibit, part science fair. Drop in to see amazing neon artifacts, old signs, and working models presented by a roomful of neon experts. Satisfy your neon curiosity! Details and single event tickets.


Friday Evening Opening Reception and Symposium, Verdi Club, SF

6:00–9:30 PM Friday April 26 2019

Join us for the opening reception for Neon Speaks at the historic Verdi Club in San Francisco. This evening will be filled with Bay Area, LA, and Las Vegas neon designers and dare-devils of spectacular neon signs. Followed by
a screening of a documentary film on Polish neon presented by Kate Widdows. Light fare and drinks during reception. Details and single event tickets.


Saturday Symposium, Great American Music Hall, SF

10 AM–3:30 PM Saturday April 27

The Saturday Symposium at the historic and ornate Great American Music Hall in San Francisco. This will be a day-long informal and spirited event presentations and panel discussions, complete with lunch, coffee, and dessert. A rare gathering of  hard-working members in the network of the national neon preservation movement.

Bonus: Will Durham will be displaying Reno's famous neon "M" of the Mapes Hotel cowboys, plus other neon signs the he has preserved via the Nevada Neon Project.  Have your photo taken with the Mapes cowboys!
Details and single event tickets.


The Art of Neon


Timed Tickets Sunday April 28, 2019
with Shawna Peterson and special guests

What does it take to create a work of art fabricated from neon-filled glass tubes? Watch it happen with neon artist/tube-bender deluxe, Shawna Peterson plus special guests. An ongoing afternoon event with timed tickets for an hour-long demo. Details and single event tickets.



Auxiliary Events*
(single event tickets only,
not included in 3-Day Pass)


Letterform Archive Tour, SF

4:30-6pm  Friday April 26,2019

A special curated tour of the Letterform Archive's stacks for anyone fascinated by the history of lettering and signage. Book early, space is limited. Details and single event tickets.




1-2PM Tour

2-3 PM Tour

Sunday, April 28 ,2019

with Jim Rizzo and Amy Palms
Back by popular demand—if you missed this shop tour last year, here is your second chance! Jim Rizzo of
Neon Works in Oakland has been rescuing and restoring Bay Area neon signs for decades and he only opens his shop for tours once in a blue moon. This is your chance to see his vintage neon collection and experience how neon, glass, and fire combine to make glowing art. Jim is a master sign-maker and he's letting us into his 17,000-square-foot workshop to explore the art and craft of neon signs. This tour sold out last year.
Details and single tickets.


Alameda Neon Walking Tour

7-8 PM Sunday April 28 2019

with Devi L. Dahl, Eric Lynxwiler, Al Barna,
and Randall Ann Homan

Take a twilight walking tour of the beautiful neon signs in the historic city of Alameda . Book early, space is limited. Details and single tickets.

Photo: Dydia DeLyser

Photo: Al Barna

Photo:Will Durham

Photo: Peterson Neon

Images: Lettterform Archive

Photo: Al Barna

Photo: Devi L. Dahl


The San Francisco Neon/Historic Sign Network produces the Neon Speaks Festival and Symposium, fiscally sponsored by the Tenderloin Museum. Grants were generously provided by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and San Francisco Heritage  from the Alice Ross Carey Preservation Fund in 2019.



We are grateful to our sponsors, and to the supporters who encouraged us to create a venue for champions to share challenges and success in preserving historic neon signs. Others have shown their support by  promoting Neon Speaks events on social media and other channels. Interested in becoming a sponsor or supporter? Let's talk!


Special festival room rates available for a limited time at  the Carlton Hotel, an historic boutique
hotel with a vintage neon blade sign.

Book online for the Neon Speak Discount
at the Hotel Carlton in San Francisco

Photo: Randall Ann Homan

All photos © 2014 Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan

All content © 2018 Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan