American Sign Museum – Cincinnati, Ohio - Atlas Obscura
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Cincinnati, Ohio

American Sign Museum

Where beautiful signs live on forever. 

Suffused with neon buzz, the Sign Museum is where all the beautiful, elaborate, and idiosyncratic signs can go once the thing they were advertising is no longer around.

The Museum was created by Tod Swormstedt, who has signs in his blood. He is the grandson of H. C. Menefee, the first editor of Sign of the Times, the sign industry’s main magazine. Swormstedt himself was the editor and publisher for several years before founding the museum.

The Museum’s collection reaches back into the 1800s, featuring signs of every sort made from almost every material imaginable. Among the most notable items are the Sputnik-like sign for the “Satellite Shopland” strip mall, and a single-arch McDonald’s sign with the pre-Ronald “Speedee” character. Some of the most beautiful signs are those from the pre-neon era, including signs advertising haberdashers, cobblers, druggists, and other turn-of-the-century businesses.

In 2012, The Sign Museum moved into a much larger space, enabling it to display some of the larger signs from its collection. The new space, with over 500 signs displayed on a faux “Main Street,” allows visitors to view these artifacts in something like their natural environment.

Know Before You Go

The American Sign Museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

  • I work at the American Sign Museum!