Museum History

A dark green sign in two pieces with the top piece reading Cincinnati in white and the second piece reading Sign Supplies, Inc. in white.

Welcome to the American Sign Museum!


Begin this tour to the left of the ramp in front of the green and white Cincinnati sign.


A 25-year veteran writer and publisher of Signs of the Times magazine, Tod Swormstedt founded the American Sign Museum in 1999, as what he refers to as his “mid-life crisis project.” Signs of the Times debuted in Cincinnati in May 1906; Tod’s great-grandfather served as the first editor of what was to become known as “the bible of the sign industry.”

Two early cover designs of Signs of the Times that are printed with black ink. The piece of the left has a small portion ripped out in the middle of the left side.

The American Sign Museum first opened in April 2005 at Essex Studios in the Walnut Hills neighborhood of Cincinnati, but it quickly out grew the 4,500 square foot location. Tod found the former Fashion Frocks building in Camp Washington, itself over 100 years old, perfect for the growing collection. The museum reopened in its present location in June of 2012.


The collection you are about to see dates from the late 1800s through the 1980s and includes objects from all across the United States. The signs you see in this hallway are a part of the museum’s local sign collection.

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