Rooster and I chose The American Sign Museum as our final stop in Cincinnati. This Museum became the highlight of our adventure.
Picking a winner
Sometimes, I happen to be the member of our adventure crew that comes up with a great idea. The American Sign Museum happened to be one of those fortunate occurrences. Rooster doubted me when we pulled through the gate and entered the parking lot at 1330 Monmouth Avenue in Cincinnati.
At first, the area appeared to be too industrial to house a museum. Rooster wasn’t shy about announcing the manufacturing-looking location might mean we were lost and in the wrong neighborhood. When we noticed the flashing Holiday Inn sign announcing the museum’s hours, we knew we were in the right place. Then a stroll around the outside of the building revealed interesting signage.
The former parachute factory, which was transformed into the American Sign Museum is the brainchild of Tod Swormstedt. This unique exhibition covers 100 years of sign displays in the commercial landscape of America. The doors opened to the public in 2005. Inside the building, a visitor will discover every type of signage used to advertise the business activity conducted inside an establishment. Signs made of metal, wood, porcelain enamel, gold leaf, plastic, and neon are on display.
Our Experience at the American Sign Museum
A twenty-foot tall Carpeteria statue hanging over the front door greeted us as we made our entrance. Stepping through the doors of the American Sign Museum is like leaping back in time. Rooster and I handed over the small fee to gain access to a world flooded with intense neon light. We stepped into rooms filled with every sign imaginable. There is so much neon the museum’s electric bill adds up to $45,000 a year. In one large area of the sign gallery, a replication of “Main Street” is constructed where the signs are displayed like they might have been when they were initially hung outside the door of a shop.
Signs we saw at the museum
Homemade sign resembling a Sputnik hung at the Satellite Shopping mall in Anaheim, California.
The Earl Scheib sign. If you remember they advertised, they could paint your car for $29.95. Ironically, it is the only sign in the museum that required a coat of paint before it could be displayed.
The Big Boy
Pig in front to greet visitors
A walk down Main Street
Emmanuel Church and Drug Company Signs
Numerous gas station signs
See Rock City
My favorite The McDonald’s sign
The guided tour wasn’t offered to us when we paid the price of admission, but there was a film about the museum set up in an open space, which provided a lot of information about the signs. Face masks are required to enter the exhibition floor. No one was working at Neonworks Of Cincinnati, which is a small shop within the Museum that specializes in repairing and manufacturing neon signs. The closure might not have been due to Covid-19, but because our visit was on the weekend.
Overall, Rooster and I both highly recommend a stop at The American Sign Museum if you are in the Cincinnati area. Even with COVID restrictions, our visit was worth the price of admission.
Who is Molly Shea?
Molly Shea is an accomplished fictional short story writer from Indiana, who writes short stories and novels about a fictional town called Tecumseh. To read more of her short stories and adventures click here.
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