Neon signs are a part of our daily lives. Beer signs, “open” signs for businesses and many kinds of advertising.
But have you ever thought about the role neon signs have played in American culture? Probably not. You can find that history in one place — the National Neon Sign Museum in The Dalles, Oregon.
From the outside, you see a majestic, ornate old brick building in the downtown section of The Dalles. But inside is an explosion of colorful American advertising history in all its neon glory.
“It’s bright. It’s colorful. It draws you in,” said David Benko, who opened the museum in 2019.
Benko has been fascinated with neon signs since he was a kid when he began his collection. That obsession has grown into the museum. But it’s not just a collection of old signs. It’s a fascinating education of the evolution of American signage from preexisting simple signs to signs illuminated by light bulbs to colorful and artistic neon signs. You’ll see samples of the earliest signage in American culture.
A visit to the National Neon Sign Museum might not be on your bucket list today, but it’s one of those surprising experiences. Afterward, you may think to yourself, “I had no idea it would be this cool.”
It’s located at 200 East 3rd Street in The Dalles.