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11/06/2024 By : Tayla-Jane Nelson

American Sign Museum Expansion Opens July 13

Weekend celebration planned as museum doubles size, adds space for programs and
events.


Cincinnati - Devoted to displaying more than 100 years of signage, The American Sign
Museum (ASM) will be unveiling its 20,000-sq.-ft. expansion. The grand re-opening kicks off
on Saturday, July 13 with activities throughout the weekend.


Since opening in Camp Washington in 2012, ASM has experienced tremendous growth.
Housed in the century-old Oesterlein Machine Company-Fashion Frocks Inc. building, the
expansion in a previously unfinished portion of the building doubles the museum’s size,
adding additional signs, along with program and event space.


“After more than two years of planning and construction, we’re excited to welcome visitors
to a bigger and better Main Street,” says David Dupee, ASM director. “With the expanded
space, visitors can experience more signs – ranging from hand-painted shop windows to
a classic theater marquee – and enjoy a place devoted to learning, inspiration, and
exploration.”


Highlights of the expansion include:

• loka Theatre marquee – The Ioka Theater, a landmark in Exeter, N.H., opened in 1915.
The only marquee in the ASM’s collection, the sign will mark a new theater space in
the museum, designed to show videos and presentations about the collection as
well as host small events and meetings.
• The Ward’s Butter Bread sign – During demolition of a Chicago building, the original
façade – hidden for more than 70 years – featuring three hand-painted
advertisements was discovered. The Ward’s Butter Bread sign was found to be the work of Jack Briggs, founder of the Beverly Sign Company which inspired the sign
industry in the 1950s and ‘60s.
• Johnny’s Big Red Grill – Tallest sign in the new wing at 21.5 ft, from Ithaca, N.Y., from a
beloved watering hole of Cornell University students.
• G & J Tire – Oldest sign in new wing, circa 1927, from Buffalo, N.Y.
• 36 sign painters from across the United States and Canada created the hand painted signs in the expanded Main Street. The three-phase construction project began in 2022.

 

Phase I included staff offices, a conference room, a collections area, and a library and resource center. Phase II extended ASM’s “Main Street” exhibition into the new space, also adding a multi-use classroom and flex-space to support programming, a catering kitchen, and a storage
area.


“With the expansion, we can further the work we do to promote the historic contributions
of the sign industry in American culture,” says Tod Swormstedt, ASM’s founder. “We’re
looking forward to expanding our education programs, welcoming more events, and
increasing our outreach to the community.”


The museum successfully completed the $5.4 million Campaign for the American Sign
Museum. Designed by Platte Architecture + Design, the ASM expansion received support
from the City of Cincinnati Department of Community and Economic Development, the
Foundation for the Advancement of the Sign Industry, Gemini Sign Products, The Carol Ann
and Ralph V. Haile Jr. Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, the State of Ohio, and
numerous generous donors from across the country.


The American Sign Museum promotes sign preservation and restoration by displaying a
century of signage. The Museum's permanent collection contains more than 4,000
objects, including more than 800 signs, 1,500 photographs, 175 artworks, 300 tools,
equipment and supply materials, in addition to countless ephemera and other sign related artifacts.


“Along with being incredibly unique, ASM’s collection offers the chance to learn more
about a part of our culture that often hides in plain sight,” says Mike Mattingly, ASM board
chair. “The new area gives us additional space and more opportunities to engage schools,
community groups, families, and learners of all ages to create meaningful and memorable
experiences.”


About the American Sign Museum:

The American Sign Museum covers more than 100 years of American sign history and displays
more than 700 signs and artifacts, making it the most comprehensive museum of its kind. With a mission to educate the community about the history of the sign industry and its significant
contribution to commerce and the American landscape, the Museum is organized to preserve,
archive and display a historical collection of signs in their many types and forms.
For more information about the American Sign Museum, please visit americansignmuseum.org.
The American Sign Museum is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation.

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