The American Sign Museum is a lot of fun. It's less than a mile off of I-75 in a semi-industrial neighborhood but that should come as no surprise as it is part sign shop and part museum. I new it would be great as I pulled into the parking lot: They have a huge bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken (not KFC) a pig the size of a medium camper, and an old Holiday Inn sign with a welcoming message. A giant genie stands over the door.
The inside has a half-dozen large rooms with signs from the 1800's to roughly the 1960s. Many are clever. Several are extremely clever. A lot are in perfect or near perfect condition, and the neon blinks and glows beautifully.
This museum will appeal to several types of visitors. I like the history, the folk artistry, and distinctly American feel. Many will feel nostalgia. The signs are also displayed with a great deal of artistry.
You can tell that the creators of the museum both enjoy their topic and have a sense of humor. One plaque, for example, tracks the disappearance of the slingshot from the pocket of the "Big Boy" statues over time, coupled with a mint condition earlier version. I liked seeing the 15 cent price on the McDonald's sign.
You probably want to check their website or call ahead. They generally give tours around 11. They didn't have one the day I was there, but it would have been great to hear a little bit more about the history and technology behind the signs. They also have a working sign shop with periodic demonstrations about bending and making neon tubes.
If you like this sort of thing, try to visit the Neon Museum in Las Vegas, which is also excellent. The museum in Las Vegas is outdoors and has signs from Las Vegas casinos and businesses. This one has more signs you would see across the country (e.g. McDonald's, Howard Johnson's, etc.), and is less geographically specific. It also has a larger number of working signs, but, again, both museums are extremely worthwhile.
This place made me happy. It will you too.
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