Located in the Camp Washington neighborhood on the west side of Cincinnati, The American Sign Museum is one of the most unique places to check out in the Queen City.
The museum holds the title as the largest public museum dedicated to signs in the United States, with over 20,000 square feet of American signage.
From early electric signs to plastic-face signs to modern neon signs, the museum has a massive variety of signs that span as far back as the early 1900s.
Whether you’re interested in learning about the history of signs in the United States or you’re just looking for a neat place to check out with friends and family, The American Sign Museum caters to all types of audiences and offers a unique museum experience that you’re likely to enjoy.
History of the American Sign Museum
The museum was founded by Tod Swormstedt in 1999, which he claimed began as a “mid-life crisis project.” The museum was originally called the National Signs of the Times Museum, but following much support and growth it was renamed and re-opened as the American Sign Museum in 2005.
The museum originally resided in an arts center, but as the collection expanded and as Tod acquired larger signs, the collection was eventually moved to its current home in a much larger facility in Camp Washington that offered 28-foot tall ceilings to accommodate the larger signs.
In 2012, the museum’s doors opened once again to the public.
Today the museum fills over 20,000 square feet of space and more signs continue to find their way into the collection each year. Tod and the museum continue to be proud of their mission to “celebrate the rich history of American signage through preservation and education.”
Exploring the American Sign Museum
Upon entering the museum, you’ll notice a small gift shop that sells a variety of Cincinnati-based knickknacks including posters, books, postcards, and old toys. Walk a little further and you’ll come up to the front desk where you can get your tickets.
Once you enter the main exhibit area, you’ll be met with an eclectic mix of signs, including old gas station signs, drug store signs, road markers, and more.
Nearly all of the signs have small tables in front of them that explain their history, including what they were once used for along with how the museum actually managed to acquire them.
For history buffs, it’s possible to spend well over an hour in the museum if you take the time to read about the history of each individual sign.
The museum also houses a working neon shop where the founder, Tod, and other employees can often be found working on repairing old signs that need a little help getting back to their former glory.
If you pop in and look around this shop area, don’t be surprised if Tod himself strikes up a conversation with you about the history of some of the signs. He’s passionate about his work and is eager to share his passion with others.
Visit The American Sign Museum
You can visit The American Sign Museum at 1330 Monmouth Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45225 during the following times:
Wednesday: 10AM – 4PM
Thursday: 10AM – 4PM
Friday: 10AM – 4PM
Saturday: 10AM – 4PM
Sunday:12 – 4PM
Admission to the museum is as follows:
12 years & under: free
There is plenty of free parking available on-site as well.
NOTE: You can get two free tickets to the museum simply by owning a Cincinnati Library card and by using the Online Reservation System to reserve tickets for specific dates.
You can find more information about the museum, including contact information and special upcoming events on their website.
If you’re looking for more interesting museums to explore around Cincinnati, check out our list of the 16 best museums around the Queen City.