The 120 neon signs and artwork of the Neon Museum of Philadelphia sparks nostalgia

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PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) – With the advent of LED lighting, neon has become a sign of a bygone era. But in Kensington there’s a new neon museum that’s on a mission to keep the spark alive. Karen Rogers takes us on tour in this week’s 6abc Loves the Arts.

The Neon Museum in Philadelphia has over 120 neon signs and artwork, mostly from the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s.

“Expect to be kind of blown away by all of this eye candy,” says Alyssa Shea, museum director at the Neon Museum in Philadelphia.

Housed in manufacturer NextFab’s hub on North American Street in Kensington, the museum houses the history of Philadelphia and America.

“We have the original Mcgillin sign,” says Len Davidson, founder of the Neon Museum of Philadelphia.

“The oldest piece in our collection is a Bulova clock. It actually dates from the 1939 New York World’s Fair,” says Shea.

The museum opened in April, founded by Len Davidson.

“We have an old RCA Victor sign,” Davidson explains, pointing to the signs.

He’s been collecting neon memorabilia since the late 1970s.

“This is probably the closest sign to his heart, as he used to go to Levis for a hot dog after watching a 76ers game with his dad and his dad went with his dad. “says Shea while presenting memorabilia from Levis Hot Dog.

The collection includes the lively toupee that hung in the window of the Ridge Avenue hair replacement center for years and the crown atop the original Pat’s Steaks, which opened in 1930.

“There are 39 hits originally. There are only two left,” Shea said.
And you can learn more about Dead Box.

“The dead box is an old street game,” says Shea.

For longtime residents, the museum is full of nostalgia.

“Speaks to the mom and pop store mentality, which has really built the Philly economy for so long,” says Shea.

In addition to preserving the old signs, the museum is creating new ones. And on a mission to keep art alive.

“Argon glows blue and neon glows red,” Davidson explains.

“It’ll basically last a lifetime, really, as long as you don’t break the glass,” says Shea.

The museum’s permanent collection is still on view and there is a new exhibit every few months. The next one, which premieres November 5, is titled Alchemy Illuminated: The Art of Crafting Trash.

“Brought to you by the Dumpster Divers of Philadelphia,” says Shea.

The Philadelphia Neon Museum | Facebook | Instagram
1800 North American Street, Unit E, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19122

Museum opening hours: Friday to Sunday:
Friday: 4 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Saturday-Sunday: 12 p.m.-5 p.m.

Reservations preferred but walk-ins welcome

Upcoming exhibition: Alchemy Illuminated: The Art of Crafting Trash
Show dates: November 5 – December 19, 2021

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