One of my 2017 resolutions is to have more adventures in Cincinnati — to explore more and really enjoy my beloved hometown. Would you believe that, in my 30+ years living in Cincinnati, I’d never been to the American Sign Museum? It’s a total travesty, really, because the American Sign Museum is a true Cincinnati treasure. So last weekend, my family and I finally ventured to Camp Washington to check out the American Sign Museum.
The American Sign Museum celebrates the art (and artistry) that went into the bright, eye-catching signs in the first half of the 20th century. There are elegant glass signs from the early 1900s, “pre-neon” signs from the teens and ’20s and bright neon numbers from the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s. The signs blink, flash and spin — they’re larger than life, three-dimensional works of art from a bygone era.
The American Sign Museum is a piece of living history that’s as accessible to kids as it is to adults. My kids absolutely loved it — Julian called the spinning car sign “the coolest thing he’s ever seen.” The signs all feature something that will appeal to younger audiences: recognizable imagery from popular culture (Ronald McDonald, Big Boy and Colonel Sanders), known objects (cars, bears, spinning globes) and vivid, bold colors.
I loved how bright and open the space was — the main room is set up like a Main Street, complete with classic restaurant signage, spinning barber shop poles, giant motel signs and various car mechanic shops. It looked like something out of a film. There was plenty of space for my kids to roam around, and lots of excited “Mommy look!” exclamations as they took it all in.
With its retro feel and nostalgic charm, the American Sign Museum would be such a fun place to bring the grandparents. The museum will take on another meaning for older audience, who will likely remember some of these signs from their own childhood.
This place is also very romantic — dim lights and warm ambience — and would make a fantastic date night for parents! (In fact, The American Sign Museum is a popular venue for wedding receptions — makes me wish I would have known about it 10 years ago for my own wedding!)
For a more structured museum experience, you’ll definitely want to take a guided tour. These tours are a great way to learn more about all the history with the museum, and are offered at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays.
If you’re looking for something fun to do this winter, definitely plan a trip to the American Sign Museum. Kids 12 and under are free with an adult (admission is $15/adults and $10/seniors, students and active military), so a day spent at this Cincinnati treasure is easily more affordable than that movie you were planning on seeing — and definitely more special.
The American Sign Museum (website) is located at 1330 Monmouth Street in Camp Washington (45225). It’s open Wednesday-Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sunday from 12-4 p.m.