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Tucson's Ignite Sign Museum inspires appreciation for Arizona's vintage and neon heritage

The Ignite Sign Art Museum in Tucson, Arizona is worth the visit with all its interesting and colorful signs around every corner. There are even scavenger hunts to make the adventure more interesting especially if you have youngsters.

Jude Cook, the owner and sign restorer, spent his career in the design and sign industry. He began his own sign business, Cook & Company over 40 years ago, first in Iowa and then moved the business to Tucson. But,he and others noticed that some of the older signs around town were in need of repair. Some signs were either not lit or saved somewhere waiting for its chance to be shown in all of its glory again. That’s when about nine years ago, Cook began restoring Tucson's iconic neon signs. This process often includes sanding down the signs to find and restore their original paint colors. Not only has Jude created and restored signs, but he collects them too.

Finally, his collection reached critical mass, filling the walls and backyard of his sign business and taking over his home front, too. On the 40th anniversary of his sign business he lit up all of his signs and invited friends and family to see, where some had said, “This looks like a museum.” That’s when he decided it was time to open a museum and share his collection with other sign lovers. The signs inside the museum are displayed in store-front vignettes. In the future, the museum is planning a display called “Argon Alley” which will be made up of miniature store fronts to showcase signs.

Ignite Sign Art Museum’s mission statement is to preserve historically significant signs, educate the community on the value signage plays in our everyday lives and to entertain visitors by offering a unique and visually entertaining experience. After visiting the museum, I would say they achieved their mission well; there is an obvious focus on preserving and restoring Tucson’s history.

The Ignite Sign Art Museum is family-friendly, accessible to those with limited mobility and has close parking on the side. People come from all over for the nostalgia, and to learn more about Tucson’s history in a unique way.

The museum is located at 331 S. Olsen, Tucson, AZ 85719, and is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Neon bending demonstrations are on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. On Saturdays, they welcome volunteers to help work on sign restorations and new displays. They also offer Neon classes to learn all the skills necessary to assemble and light up your own neon sculpture under the step-by-step guidance of an experienced teacher and artist. The next class is February 12, 2022 at 1 p.m.

Other opportunities include renting the space to host your next event in the museum and booking for a photo or video shoot when the museum is closed to the public.

For more information, visit their website or call the museum at 520-319-0888.

We hope to hear about your visit!

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