by SLICK TRACY. Slick Tracy is known as the Hotel Detective and Food Sleuth, uncovering the unique, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in travel venues.
All across the United States, there are small museums dedicated to something or other. Occasionally, one stands out as being something really special. These are the 'must-see' and 'do not miss' locations. Once such location is the American Sign Museum, located in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The sign museum is loaded with brightly lit neon signs, but there is an abundance of painted signs, illuminated signs, and more. They advertise that this is an opportunity to 'Take A Walk Down Memory Lane' and I agree wholeheartedly. It was easy to spend several minutes remembering fond childhood experiences as I strolled through the exhibits.
This is more than just a collection of old signs. It is a documentation of the history of American signage. You are taken through a half century of sign history, beginning with the fancy gold leaf glass signs of the 1900's. The pre-neon era is represented by a number of light bulb signs, followed by the heyday of neon during the 1930's and 1940's. The 1950's are represented by more plastic and funky signs.
The founder and inspiration of the American Sign Museum is a fellow named Tod Swormstedt. Within a few minutes of visiting with Tod, you are acutely aware that he is very passionate about the museum. It was only established a few short years ago, with Tod installing and displaying some of the 42,000 items he had cataloged for many years.
The actual location is a 40,000 square-foot factory building that produced parachutes for the military during World War II. Swormstedt grew up in Cincinnati and grew up in the sign business. His great-grandfather founded a trade magazine in 1906 called 'Signs Of The Times.' Tod worked in both the publishing and editorial parts of the magazine for about 25 years. He calls the museum 'a crazy idea' had dreamed about for decades.
In addition to the signs on display, the location features an area that can accommodate small gatherings, as well as large business events. It has become a favorite for wedding receptions. A separate, but cooperative business, NeonWorks, is located in the building. NeonWorks manufactures and repairs neon signs.
Guided tours are the preferred way to experience the museum. There are sputnik-like signs, hand-lettered show-cards from early Las Vegas days, and more. Discounts are offered to seniors, students, and military. Children are free. There is ample parking with RV's and buses accommodated. The museum is handicap accessible.
Contact the American Sign Museum at 513-541-6366 or visit the website at: www.SignMuseum.org