American Sign Museum merges with local neon sign maker

Neonworks of Cincinnati has merged with the American Sign Museum, creating what ASM leadership believes is the start of an expanded partnership between the Camp Washington institutions.

Neonworks, a full-time neon workshop, has been located inside ASM since the museum opened the doors at its current home in 2012. (The business actually set up shop in the space two years earlier while the museum was still under development.) Since then, Neonworks staff has offered glass bending demonstrations as part of museum tours.

The purchase of Neonworks – one of the only neon shops in the region – by ASM creates “exciting symmetries showcasing neon and glass bending as an art form and integral part of the sign industry,” according to Director David Dupee.

Neonworks founder Tom Wartman

Since its inception, ASM has been on a mission to educate the community about the history of the sign industry and its significant contribution to commerce and the American landscape.

ASM’s merger with Neonworks will further that mission, Dupee said, by “fully (integrating) the work they do into our programming, including the development of education programs and hands-on workshops.”

Neonworks will continue to operate as a standalone company, but it’ll also become a formal department of the museum. Tom Wartman, founder and president of the company, will remain onboard along with three other Neonworks employees.

In the short-term, ASM plans to use the Neonworks studio to continue building appreciation for the crafts of sign making and neon work. But in the future, the museum may look to add more formal professional development and apprenticeship-style training, Dupee said.

On July 13, ASM will expand into 200,000 square feet of previously unfinished space inside its current home, a century-old factory building. The expansion doubles the museum’s size and creates more room for additional signs but also things such as special events and a range of educational programming.

“While ASM is devoted to the history and preservation of signage, we also have a responsibility to ensure the craft continues into the future,” Dupee said.

American Sign Museum

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