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New American Sign Museum to Open in Spring 2012

(September 2011) posted on Fri Sep 09, 2011

Anonymous, $900,000 gift paves the way for final construction.


By Tod Swormstedt

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By the time you read this, we will be three weeks into the third and final phase of construction of the museum’s long-awaited new home. Thanks to a very generous, anonymous gift of $900,000 to the museum’s Capital Fund, the museum now projects a January 2012 completion date. A grand opening is being planned for Spring 2012. While the $900,000 gift secures the completion of the general construction, and will make our new home operational, our goal is to raise an additional $200,000. These funds are necessary for the design and fabrication of the new exhibits, as well as the restoration and subsequent installation of the museum’s newer additions.

The new, 19,300-sq.-ft. facility is approximately 450% larger than the museum’s present home at Essex Studios in the Walnut Hills area of Cincinnati. The historic building will allow us to consolidate all operations under one roof, bringing together our extensive collection of historically significant acquisitions. Included in this is a photo archive filled with nearly 1,200 vintage, black-and-white prints and transparencies, as well as a substantial library of more than 800 sign-related books and catalogs.

The main area of the museum — designated “Signs on Main Street” — focuses on a street scene characterized by life-size storefronts stretching along and facing toward a “town square.” The 3-D, period storefronts serve as a backdrop for a range of historic signs; storefront windows showcase smaller signs and sign-related objects. Each of the 15 storefronts is home to an individual business with a differently themed window display.

The 28-ft. ceilings of the town-square area of “Signs on Main Street” allow the display of some of the museum’s larger signs. Among these are some great American icons including a 1963 Speedee McDonald’s sign and a 1958 Howard Johnson’s sign. Another especially exciting addition will be the inclusion of a working neon shop where museum visitors will be able to watch neon production first-hand.

The floor plan also features an events area that will enable the museum to transform into an entertainment venue with the latitude to play host to meetings, seminars and receptions. A full-scale (16 x 50-ft.) Mail Pouch barn wall sign, rescued from Lanesville, IN, will appropriately serve as the backdrop for such activities.

We greatly anticipate sharing the grand opening of your American Sign Museum. You can support the museum and become involved in many ways; if you haven’t done so yet, our sprint lap is the time to do it.

For example, you can make your mark (literally) with a personal message that will be a part of the museum forever by purchasing a paver or painting a panel that will line the entrance floor and lobby wall, respectively. You can also restore a sign through our Adopt a Sign program by sponsoring the restoration of a specific sign or even restoring a sign in your own shop. At the very least, you can become a member.

To all of you who have supported the museum to date, our sincere thanks. You can be proud for the part you’ve played in making it all come together. To those of you who are waiting for the chance, there’s still time. Call me at (513) 258-4020 or e-mail tod@signmuseum.org
 


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