New exhibit at Nevada State Museum tips its hat to ‘Vegas Vic’

He might not have Wayne Newton’s tan or Oscar Goodman’s showgirl escorts, but Vegas Vic is unquestionably one of Las Vegas’ most recognizable figures.

The iconic image of Vegas Vic has been featured in numerous ways through the years, including post cards.

Being 40 feet tall and wearing neon and a giant cowboy hat is helpful, too.

Now he’s the subject of a new exhibit inside Curator Canyon at the Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas.

Vegas Vic was created in 1945 when Las Vegas promoted itself with images of the Old West: stagecoaches, cowboys, chuck wagon buffets. As an advertising tool, Vegas Vic embodied an informal, welcoming friendliness and his image appeared on billboards, in print ads, and on souvenirs of every description.

Even though Las Vegas left its Old West identity behind decades ago, Vegas Vic is still the most iconic image associated with the city and represents one of the most successful branding efforts in advertising history. Still attached to the front of the former Pioneer Club casino underneath the canopy of the Fremont Street Experience, the Vegas Vic neon sign continues welcoming Las Vegas visitors nearly 75 years after it debuted.

“As fast and often as Las Vegas changes,” Museum Director Dennis McBride said. “Vegas Vic provides a welcome sense of historical continuity.”

Many of the artifacts in the exhibit are from the Richard and Nancy Greeno Collection of Las Vegas memorabilia. It is one of the largest such collections in the US representing several decades of collecting not only memorabilia and branded items from all of Las Vegas’ major hotel-casino properties from 1941 to the present, but includes a significant collection of roulette-related artifacts, entertainment memorabilia, and items associated with organized crime.

The exhibit will remain in place through the end of the year.