American Sign Museum Grand Reopening - June 1-2, 2012
The American Sign Museum originally opened in 2005 and I was there. In January of this year, there was a farewell party for that location and I was there for that too. It's hard to claim that anything is more important than that 2005 opening but this month's events are mighty important and pretty darned exciting, too. In its new location, the museum has room for some of those big signs that had to sit out in the weather and it will be open full time on a regular schedule. Beginning June 23, the doors will be open five days a week, Wednesday through Sunday. On Friday, there was a reception and preview for invited guests. A public preview and fundraiser was held Saturday. The first three rows of photos are from Friday. The last row's from Saturday.

The museum entrance is under the genie and the wall showing the "History of 3D Letters" is right inside the museum proper. That third picture looks a little like some collages of multiple neon signs I've done in the past but this one is "live". That's the way it looks inside the museum. The last picture in the first row is of my favorite sign in the museum. It's lit by gas. The sign behind it to the right advertises Gust Mitchell Neon Signs. The three signs to its right are Gust Mitchell products. Nice little collection, eh? And I also got a picture of my second favorite sign.

The second row starts off with a shot down Main Street. On Friday, in addition to the towering signs down its middle and the smaller signs and storefronts along its edges, Main Street held tables of very tasty finger food. The faux gas station is at the opposite end of Main Street. The window to its left looks into Neonworks of Cincinnati, a working sign shop that functions as a museum exhibit on top of serving its own customers and handling much of the museum's restoration work. That's Debra Jane Seltzer, the lady, photographing the hat. In case the back of her head isn't instantly recognizable, that's also Debra Jane next to the hammer and, because it's a really big hammer, here's an enlarged section. I'm fairly familiar with her website and I've followed her blog for quite awhile but this was our first meeting. It was fun prowling the museum together. Debra Jane crisscrosses the country on camera safaris tracking down interesting signs and buildings and stuff. I imagine her visits to the Sign Museum are not entirely unlike a wildlife photographer's visits to a zoo.

Of course anything this momentous has to have a bit of ceremony. My pictures from that are in the third row. Wade Swormstedt, current editor of Signs of the Times magazine, acted as MC. Among the folks he introduced were American Sign Museum Board of Trustees Chairman, Roger Crice, and his own mother, Win Swormstedt. Mom Swormstedt is a pretty funny lady who introduced her other son, the museum's founder and its heart & soul, Tod Swormstedt. Tod told some stories, presented some awards, thanked a whole bunch of people, and got a little choked up a time or two. It's hard to imagine just what this whole thing means to him or the amount of energy he's poured into making it happen. The highlight was probably the screening of a not-quite-finished video about the fleshing out of Main Street. The finished video will become a museum display. It basically tells about a flock of extremely talented "letterheads" who volunteered their time to add the details that make the space seem more like a real world street and less like a cold museum display. It's the subject of an entry in the museum's blog here. They came from all over the United States and Canada and less than half were able to attend on Friday but those that were make an impressive line. Never heard of "letterheads"? Me neither but the name made sense immediately.

Saturday's public event seemed well attended but the crowd was spread out over the afternoon. That, along with the removal of food tables and beverage bars from the museum display areas, allowed smaller displays and those Main Street details to be more easily seen and appreciated. And people didn't have to go hungry. Hotdogs, popcorn, and drinks were available in the room that held Friday's ceremonies. The tiles displayed on the table were purchased and painted by supporters and will soon be mounted on a museum wall. Those with lesser artistic abilities could purchase paver blocks to be engraved and placed in the front walkway. As I headed across the parking lot to head home, an attractive lady leaving the museum caught my eye and lens. At that very instant, a beam of light seemed to pick out a particular spot on that walkway. I'm looking forward to the passage of enough feet to wear this sucker out.

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