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Cincinnati, Ohio

American Sign Museum

Where beautiful signs live on forever. 

The funny thing about walking through the Sign Museum is that you not only see the signs, you hear them as well.

Suffused with that consistent neon buzz, the Sign Museum is a place where all the beautiful, elaborate, and simply wonderful 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.

The Museum’s collection starts in the 1970s and goes back into the 1800s, featuring signs of every sort, made from almost every material imaginable. Among the notable signs are the Sputnik-like “Satellite” sign, hand-built to advertise a strip mall, a single-arch McDonald’s sign with the pre-Ronald “Speedee” character, and over 200 other signs. 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.

The Sign Museum is making plans to move into a much larger building so that it can display some of the larger signs from its collection. The new space, with over 500 signs displayed in a made-up town called “Signville,” is set to open in 2010.