News / Edmonton

Edmonton's outdoor Neon Sign Museum to expand

Three signs added since the summer, several more to come

The Neon Sign Museum on 104 Street, complete with the newest sign, the Art Store, which is the lowest placed sign.

KEVIN TUONG/For Metro

The Neon Sign Museum on 104 Street, complete with the newest sign, the Art Store, which is the lowest placed sign.

The newest addition to the Neon Sign Museum is a brightly coloured mystery.

Hung last week, the flashy red and blue artist’s palette once beckoned customers into a shop called The Art Store.

What exactly The Art Store was, however, is anyone’s guess.

“We’re having a hard time getting any information about the business, or even where it was located, to be perfectly honest,” said David Johnston, Principal Heritage Planner with the City of Edmonton, of the sign that trickled into the city hands through the Alberta Sign Association.

It’s a case Johnston hopes they’ll crack soon, because of the personal attachment many people feel to the signs, which include icons from Edmonton’s commercial and industrial past, like Canadian National railways, Pantages Theatre and Mike’s News.

Johnston adds that the city as gotten frequent feedback from passer by since the museum flickered to life almost exactly two years ago.

“People have an interesting, almost personal connection with them because they’re from another era,” he said.

In the 1940s and 1950s Jasper Ave was lined with the flashing signs (“almost like Las Vegas,” Johnston said) before falling prey to maintenance costs and new technology.

Now, the outdoor museum, which features signs attached to the exterior of the Telus building, is a link to that past.  

“They’re a tangible connection to the businesses and the people who worked in those businesses, and in a lot of cases they’re real landmarks, they’re iconic.”

With the completion of the arena set to draw bigger crowds to the neighbourhood, Johnston said the museum is getting preparing for an expansion.

The museum started with eight signs, and has added three since last summer. Johnston says there are between four and eight—including the sign from the Bee Bell Bakery—that will be ready to install in the coming months.