Cincinnati Treasure: American Sign Museum

One of my 2020 resolutions is to have more adventures in Cincinnati — to explore more and really enjoy my hometown. The American Sign Museum has been at the top of that list.

Last week, I took advantage of the library’s Discovery Pass program and ventured to Camp Washington to check out the American Sign Museum.

The American Sign Museum celebrates the art (and artistry) that went into the bright, eye-catching signs in the first half of the 20th century. There are elegant glass signs from the early 1900s, “pre-neon” signs from the teens and ’20s and bright neon numbers from the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s. The signs blink, flash and spin — they’re larger than life, three-dimensional works of art from a bygone era.

The American Sign Museum is a piece of living history that’s as accessible to kids as it is to adults. My toddler absolutely loved it. The signs all feature something that will appeal to younger audiences: recognizable imagery from popular culture (Ronald McDonald, Big Boy and Colonel Sanders), known objects (cars, bears, spinning globes) and vivid, bold colors.

As someone who likes taking pictures, I love how colorful and open the space is — the main room is set up like a Main Street, complete with classic restaurant signage, spinning barber shop poles, giant motel signs and various car mechanic shops. It looks like something out of a film. There is plenty of space for kids to roam around, and it’s easy to keep track of your little explorers.

With its retro feel and nostalgic charm, the American Sign Museum would be such a fun place to bring grandparents. The museum will take on another meaning for older audience, who will likely remember some of these signs from their own childhood. This place is also very romantic — dim lights and warm ambience — and would make a fantastic date night for parents.

For a more structured museum experience, you’ll definitely want to take a guided tour. These tours are a great way to learn more about all the history with the museum, and are offered at 11 am and 2 pm Wednesdays-Saturdays and 2 pm on Sundays.

If you’re looking for something fun to do this winter, definitely plan a trip to the American Sign Museum. There’s free admission for up to three kids 12 and under with each paying adult — but if you take advantage of the library’s Discovery Pass program, you can get one adult ticket for free! So a day spent at this Cincinnati treasure is easily more affordable than that movie you were planning on seeing — and definitely more special.

The American Sign Museum is located at 1330 Monmouth Street in Camp Washington, 45225. It’s open Wednesday-Saturday from 10 am-4 pm and Sunday from 12-4 pm.

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