Exploring Cincinnati’s American Sign Museum

Neon signs

The American Sign Museum has been on my list for a while now, originally fueled by appearances on social media and also from reader recommendations. This past week I was excited to finally check it off my Ohio bucket list.

Neon signs at the American Sign Museum in Cincinnati.
This rotating sign was one of my favorites.

The American Sign Museum, a Sign of the Times

Located in Cincinnati, the American Sign Museum is the work of Tod Swormstedt. Mr. Swormstedt spent decades working on the staff of Signs of the Times, an industry magazine that his family published for four generations.

The Frisch's Big Boy highlights this area of the American Sign Museum
Walking through the museum is like walking into the past.

Then in 1999, he opened the Signs of the Times Museum, which showcased his collection of over 100 years from the sign industry. His project gained support and in 2005 the museum was renamed the American Sign Museum and relocated to an arts center.

As the collection grew, it could no longer be housed in the center. Some of the larger signs could not be displayed at their full height and a new venue was necessary. The museum found its new home in the historic Camp Washington neighborhood in downtown Cincinnati.

Visiting the American Sign Museum

My GPS delivered me to the museum with no issue and we knew straight away that we’d arrived. There are several large signs outside of the museum, including an old Holiday Inn sign that marks the entrance to the parking lot.

On the left a number of neon signs. On the right a young woman poses by a lamp post at the American Sign Museum.
On the left, more neon. On the right, Natalie enjoys the Main Street area.

We purchased our tickets ahead of time, which was recommended. Admission ranges from $10 (seniors, youth and students) to $25 for full adult price. Parking was free.

The signs were very interesting and there is additional signage that gives some details on the history of the works. I was delighted to find several signs from childhood that I may have forgotten. Most Ohioans of a certain age will, for instance, recognize the giant Big Bear sign that sat above our grocery stores for a time. Big Bear was, of course, at one time headquartered in Columbus.

A large bear sign is lit up with neon red at the American Sign Museum.
This one brought back memories of grocery shopping with my mother in the 70s.

The Main Street area of the museum was my favorite. It’s set up like a city street with store windows and lamp posts. The signs, many of them neon, are the highlight of course.

The museum is not large, so you should plan on maybe an hour to tour the entire space. We actually walked the entire museum, then revisited our favorite parts all within the hour.


Thanks for FindingOhio again with us today. What is on your Ohio bucket list? We’re always looking for new things to explore in the Buckeye State.

Old signs adorn the outside of the American Sign Museum.
The parking lot and outside of the building is adorned with signs. I remember Holiday Inn signs that looked like this one.

There’s so much to explore in Cincinnati. Take a walk across the Roebling, shop at Findlay Market, visit Kings Island or take in a Reds game. You can even stay in a fully equipped cabin at Winton Woods.

Whatever you do, keep exploring! And as always, we appreciate you sharing our content to social media so everyone can experience Ohio.