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On the road with 5440 and the Smilin' Buddha neon sign

Within the history galleries at the Museum of Vancouver hangs one of the city's most beloved reminders of the local alt-rock and punk music scenes, a giant flashing neon sign of a bald red buddha. Originally taken from the neon strip along Hastings Street the sign belonged to the Smilin' Buddha Cabaret. Originally a reputable Chinese restaurant, the cabaret reinvented itself over 4 decades culminating as the home of the 80's punk scene. The sign was eventually donated to the Museum in 2008 by the band 5440. In 1995 they ended up with the sign and decided to take it on tour. 

At the height of their popularity the alt-rock band 5440 released their 3rd album and named it after the sign and music venue. 

Early in 2012 Vocalist Neil Osborne and bassist Brad Merritt visited the MOV history galleries and shared with staff the wild story of the Buddha tour of '95 and that giant neon sign.

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