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Arts and Entertainment

Museum Crowdsources Funds to Restore Grauman's Chinese Theatre's Neon Dragon

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There are changes afoot at the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, bringing the globally-recognized venue into the modern era of movie-going, but there's a piece of its history that needs a light.

Once upon a time two neon dragons lit up the marquees of the theatre that has seen millions of fans flock to its foot- and hand-print courtyard, and stars over the decades trod its carpets for premieres. L.A.'s Museum of Neon Art (MONA) acquired the two dragons in 2007, and gifted one to a local non-profit, but wants to get the other one up and running at their facility. To do so, MONA has launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding venture.

The signs were initially supposed to go to MONA in 2001, and the future looked bright for the dragons, per this summer 2001 report from Hollywood Heritage:

When removing the elaborate 1958 neon dragons and marquees from the façade, the deterioration of the metal underneath revealed that the signs would have needed replacement within two years. The signs were dismantled and the pieces were carefully numbered and packaged for storage until a future site can be agreed upon. Tentative plans had called for one of the neon dragons to go to the Museum of Neon Art downtown and one complete marquee and dragon (after extensive renovation) to go to the Debbie Reynolds Hollywood Collection Museum at the Hollywood and Highland project for her spring 2002 opening. Eventually, it is hoped that approvals can be reached with Mann Theater’s owners for these two entities to be able to acquire the classic neon signage.
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Alas, things got a little dark: The theatre's then-owner balked on given the dragons to MONA, took them down, and stuck them in an outdoor storage yard, explains MONA on their Indiegogo page.

The dragons took six years of neglect and beating, and the one the museum wants to put up at their entrance needs help getting back in working order.

MONA breaks down the three phases of the restoration and the estimated cost; their goal is to raise $35,000 to get that dragon back to its stunning visual roar.