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American Sign Museum to Unveil New Wing

A new section of the museum’s Main Street will open in mid-July.




Sign artist David Butler (left) and ASM Founder Tod Swormstedt. Photo by Jeff Russ

The American Sign Museum (ASM) in Cincinnati has a new wing in the works: a new section of its Main Street, the thoroughfare that exhibits historic signs, lights and storefronts through the museum. The wing will be open to the public beginning in mid-July, but the editors of Signs of the Times were invited inside and behind the scenes for an inside look at the work in progress.

Dozens of signpainters from across the US and Canada made the pilgrimage to what has become Mecca for the Letterheads, Walldogs and others for the painstaking (but loving) task of creating the many signs and murals to expand the museum’s Main Street immersive environment. Their projects span the breadth of the craft, from gilding and glue-chipping glass to and stylized letters to classically designed wall murals. Under their transforming hand, the extended Main Street will feature a camera shop, a neon-bedecked deli, a jewelry store and more.

Sign artists Elaine Wallis (left) and Loraine Lamb LaLonde. Photo by Jeff Russ

Sign artists Elaine Wallis (left) and Loraine Lamb LaLonde. PHOTO: JEFF RUSS

Among the many sign artists are Mark Oatis, YESCO (Las Vegas), who, with wife Rose, is creating the Main Street’s signshop. “If it weren’t for ST, there wouldn’t be the Letterheads. In the late 1970’s as Tod [Swormstedt, the museum’s founder] resurrected the sign contest, entries started to be submitted from ‘Member of the Letterheads,'” Oatis says. “Tod looked into the group, began publicizing their efforts and the rest is history.”

In turn, these Letterheads have continued to repay Swormstedt, while at the same time, leaving their contributions to the ASM.

The Signs of the Times staff have documented the work-in-progress ahead of the new wing’s opening. Learn about the signpainters and their projects in our photo gallery here.

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