Day 37: The Grand Reopening

My shooting plans for the day were squashed by miserable weather.  Rain and grey clouds all day long.  I had to stop myself from trying.  Instead, I took advantage of the time to stock up on sleep for the journey home tomorrow.  Then, in the afternoon, I went to the unofficial Sneak Preview for select invitees.  I think most of the folks were sign industry people and benefactors.

On the way there, I couldn’t resist grabbing a shot of this one.  The grey sky background shows you how dreary the day was:


The museum is, of course, incredible in every way.  Yes, tons of big and small neon signs of every variety.  The lower “Do Not Touch” and “Welcome” signs are composed of freestanding neon letters that are activated (lit) when placed on the little message board slat.  I’m not enough of a neon techie to understand how this is possible:


Signs and letters of all types:


Neon signs in their original packing / shipping crates:


And older, non-neon stuff like this:


And this sign which I don’t remember noticing before (easy to miss stuff no matter how many times you go).  I adore it.  Backlit opal glass but unlike any I’ve seen before.  Each letter is mounted behind its own metal piece.


Not into people shots — but I thought I should give you a sense of the event.  There were great snacks!  The sandwiches all had meat so I had to pass.  But the asparagus was to die for.  And there were other veggies and bready things to munch on.  Some mini cupcakes…. and an open bar.  I actually had a BEER!


And here’s really the star of the show:   Tod Swormstedt.  None of this would be possible without his devotion to signs and putting together this miraculous and comprehensive collection and well-designed space:


One of the most touching and unique projects that went into the museum’s new space, was the gathering of sign painters from around the U.S. and Canada.  They created vintage-looking storefront signs for the museum’s Main Street area:

There was a short video shown with interviews and the signs being painted.  And the painters in attendance were called to the front of the room.  Behind them, well there’s Tod of course, but there’s also a hand-painted Mail Pouch Tobacco sign.  It was deinstalled from an old barn, slat-by-slat, and installed here:


I had the pleasure of meeting a fellow roadside-lover at the event.  Denny Gibson keeps a website for his roadtrips — you might enjoy a gander at that:


Tomorrow is supposed to be sensationally sunny.  I will be zipping around town with my list trying to make up for today’s lack of outdoor photos.  Then there’s event #2 at the American Sign Museum.  This one is a fundraiser — $25 a pop — for the general public from 1-5 pm.  After that, it’s all interstate for me.  So, you won’t get tomorrow’s final blog post until I’m safely home.  I should be home Sunday night or worst case Monday morning.  Work on Monday night.  So I’ll be sending you photos & writing to you next most likely on Tuesday morning.  Heading to bed now — at a shockingly early 11 pm.


8 thoughts on “Day 37: The Grand Reopening

  1. Hi Debra / Agility Nut —

    I have been enjoying your blog post posts so much that I’ve made my way to Cincy to join in the opening of the Sign Museum. (I’ve been looking forward to seeing the place for years, since it was first announced in SCA News years ago.) I love your photos — and if you have some time before you hit the road again I hope I can meet you and may be interview you for my website / blog called Road Trip USA, which is also a great big book about old highways ( ). If you get this note, and have the time & inclination, give me a call ( 530-220-09 five two ) . I’ll be out at Serpent Mound to watch the sunrise (sort of…) but will be at the Sign Museum 2-5pm — Happy Trails, and thanks for sharing your signs! all best,

    Jamie Jensen

    • Awesome! Glad I inspired you to come. You’re gonna be stunned by the place & signs, I promise. I should be there by 2 (sun’s out, gotta shoot!) and will probably stay til around 4. If you want to interview me, I’m game. Today’s t-shirt selection is gold, jeans, grey hair, sunburn, big camera — I should be easy to find.

  2. Right now as I enjoy my morning coffee in California, you are zipping around Cincinnati getting a few last shots. Hopefully in the sun! Have fun at the charity event this afternoon, and rest up for the last piece of the drive homeward from this long journey. Wishing you a sweet day ahead.

    • Yes! The weather gods gave me sun for my final day. The museum was the perfect capper. About halfway home now (6am in PA) — so should have the “wrap-up” post later today.

  3. Enjoyed all your photo updates here and on Flickr! Great shots. The sign museum looks really cool. I liked the Ford Wrench Hardware sign. Have a safe trip back home.


  4. Great meeting you and I’m happy to hear that the dash home is going well. I found that ALTMAN sign in a picture I have from the 2005 opening where it was also part of the 3D letter display. Discovering “new” stuff that was there all along was something I did a lot at the old museum and I’m certain to do a lot more of at the new one.

    • I bet I have a photo of the ALTMAN sign as well then. I have been a neon snob for years. Only within the last couple years have I become equally obsessed with the older signs.

      Home!! Posting later tonight or tomorrow morning.

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