Two major sign restorations were just completed, both of which had been on display unrestored in the 1950s area of the museum since the museum’s opening last summer. Both signs were acquired in the early days of the museum and had been on display in the original Essex Studios facility.
Big Bear was a donation of DaNite Signs, Columbus, OH, which had discovered the Columbus area icon face down in the weeds behind its shop—taken down long ago and forgotten. The three-color porcelain enamel bear was outlined in a particularly dark ruby red glass, but a number of the tubes were missing and/or broken. Neonworks’ co-owner, Tom Wartman, who does the majority of our restoration, was able to patch together ruby red tubes from both sides of the double-faced sign in order to re-light the side on display. Thanks to all of those who had “adopted” Big Bear in the museum’s Adopt-A-Sign fundraising program: Martin Treu, Denise Vajen, Alexis Daigle, Jason Gaynor, Hugh Campbell, David and Angela Carter, and Susan Kitchen.
The other restored sign—Colonial Dairy–was a donation of the Museum of Neon Art, dating back to 2002. The sign had been featured in a window at MONA’s former location in the fashion district of Los Angeles, but when the museum moved, it no longer had the space to exhibit the animated sign. The mother cow and calf were shipped to Cincinnati with the glass removed and tied to three large chicken wire wood frames, where it remained until Tom successfully re-assembled the sign last month. The animated neon cow is already a crowd favorite—especially for our younger school-age visitors. Our appreciation to Kim Koga, executive director of MONA, and her Board for entrusting us with the sign, and to Ellen Austin-Li and the Seven Hills Webelos II Cub Scouts 2012 who adopted this very fun sign.