The Suitcase Lady


June 25, 2019, 1:48 pm

Last weekend we met the Eastern branch of our family in Cincinnati, Ohio, the halfway point between our homes. Having one day together to explore the city, we hit the jackpot when we discovered an illuminating, electrifying and exciting attraction.

Going by the unassuming name of the American Sign Museum, it is anything but bland. All three generations of us agreed it was dazzling…in the literal sense of the word.

The American Sign Museum covers the history of commercial American signs from 1870 through 1970. Starting with hand carved signs sporting gilded letters, the displays continue to electric light bulb signs, neon era signs, metal signs and modern plastic signs.

Visitors can also walk through the adjacent neon restoration shop where old neon signs are brought back to their original splendor.

This grand museum is the creation of Tod Swormstedt who worked on SIGNS OF THE TIMES, the trade magazine of the sign industry, for 28 years. His great-grandfather was the original editor of the publication which began in 1906 and continues in print to this day.

In 1999, Mr. Swormstedt’s desire to save, restore and archive old signs led to his opening of the National Signs of the Times Museum. This morphed into the American Sign Museum in 2005. Because of the need for a huge space to display his massive and growing collection, a move was made in 2012 to the current location in a former industrial complex. Plans are now underway to double the size of the museum in the near future.

Be forewarned: older visitors to the museum should be ready to embark on a massive nostalgia trip. Here is a short video my husband and I made in an attempt to capture the feel of this amazing museum. We’ll be back when the expansion is completed.



2 Comments for this entry

  • Russ

    Neon is amazing!

  • John

    I loved this place! So cool that it will expand so we can come back. The light really stirred memories of being near (or under) those or similar signs. Seeing 100 years of history through one form of communication is a really special way to tie the years together.

    Car museum next!

    p.s. really run to see family in those pictures and what a great movie!