Another Take on the American Sign Museum

Discussion in 'Scenic, Architecture, and Travel' started by jloden, Jul 25, 2013.

  1. jloden

    jloden FujiXspot Top Veteran

    708
    Mar 9, 2013
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Jay
    Mikey posted his thread up before I got around to making one, so I'll post these up as another take/view on the American Sign Museum in Cincinnati :)

    My best friend from growing up and I decided it'd been too long since our last road trip and we embarked on a long weekend trip to Louisville, KY for the 12th annual LebowskiFest (a topic for another thread I'm sure). Along the way we made a few interesting stops and of course I took lots of photos. The most interesting place we stumbled onto was the American Sign Museum. We thought it'd be a quick in and out visit, but it turned out to be a fascinating tour by the founder of the museum, Tod Swormstedt, and we learned tons about the history and development of signs. It was a ton of fun and I'd love to visit if I'm ever in the area again.


    Even before you enter the museum, it was pretty obvious you were in the right place :D There were signs everywhere, some that are permanent outdoor installations and a few I'm pretty sure they just haven't found a spot for yet.

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    LebowskiFest 12 by jloden, on Flickr


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    Once inside, by pure luck we happened to be there at the exact time a tour was starting with Tod, so we joined the group.


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    LebowskiFest 12 by jloden, on Flickr


    Took this one special just for you all :wink:

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    LebowskiFest 12 by jloden, on Flickr


    Tod is passionate about signs and the changing technology and history that make up the eras of signage, and his enthusiasm is infectious. We found ourselves very quickly wrapped up in following along the development from stamped and pressed letters through light bulb signs, neon, and plastic.

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    LebowskiFest 12 by jloden, on Flickr


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    Tod demonstrating a few clever mechanisms for lit signs, including an interchangeable letter neon sign with drop-in letters.

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    LebowskiFest 12 by jloden, on Flickr


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    At the end of the tour is the "main street" & plaza setup. The Museum has a clever setup where they've reproduced the signs in their natural environments, using mock storefronts with shops, bars, etc. all with their accompanying signage. The centerpiece is this massive piece of classic McDonald's advertising.

    In case you were wondering, it weighs 3900 lbs, and its pillars are sunk 8 feet into the floor. They had to literally build the museum around it in order to make it fit. I joked that the entire museum could fall down and this sign would be the last thing left standing :wink:

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    LebowskiFest 12 by jloden, on Flickr


    The neat part about the "main street" is that it's available for rent for parties and events. So if you're in the Cincinnati area and looking for a really unique venue, this is definitely the place!


    Finally, the last stop on the tour was Neonworks of Cincinnati, a neon sign manufacture and repair shop attached to the museum. The folks there are always working with neon and when available they provide a demonstration and explanation of the steps to creating a neon sign so we were able to observe them creating in real time.

    Bending and checking the glass against a pattern:

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    LebowskiFest 12 by jloden, on Flickr


    Filling with gas in a vacuum then heating it to a correct temp and charging it:

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    LebowskiFest 12 by jloden, on Flickr


    Totally recommend the museum if you're in the area. Nice group of people, fascinating sign collection and history that's well worth the visit.
     
  2. Luke

    Luke FujiXspot Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    865
    Jan 31, 2013
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    I know a guy who works in neon. He's a little "off". When I suggested it might the work, he concurred. He said most everyone that does neon work is the same way. Great shots, Jay.
     
  3. jloden

    jloden FujiXspot Top Veteran

    708
    Mar 9, 2013
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Jay

    :rofl:

    Thanks Luke. Nothing like inhaling gases and fluorescent powder all day every day, I'm sure :cool:
     
  4. Mikey

    Mikey FujiXspot Veteran

    277
    May 15, 2013
    Louisville, KY
    Very nice, Jay! I really, really like the one where the owner holds up the U-shaped lighting object -- excellent! Makes me want to go back and force myself to shoot with a more normal FOV. Also, I might just redo my McDonalds sign into a colored version as well. Which day were you there? I was there this past Sunday. The reason I ask is because the owner was wearing the same exact black shirt as when I was there. :p
     
  5. jloden

    jloden FujiXspot Top Veteran

    708
    Mar 9, 2013
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Jay
    Thanks :)

    That's by far my favorite shot from the museum as well. Funny thing is that was totally taken on a whim and it turned out way, way cooler than I thought it would when I was shooting it. (Oh, and I almost gave up on it after it took 4 attempts to lock focus correctly!)

    We were there Friday, the 19th. I wouldn't be surprised if he's got a large supply of black t-shirts :cool:

    Too bad I didn't remember you were local; I'd have shot you a message and we could meet up and say hi or something, but we were just passing through town basically so we could stop at the museum on our way to KY.