In the course of our daily reporting, we often uncover unusual projects, places, or connections that don't make the final cut. Instead of keeping it to ourselves, we're pleased to share our weekly Architrivia.

Edmonton Neon Sign Museum, image by Dave Sutherland

Neon signs, once a popular and eye-catching way to advertise businesses to people on the street, have fallen out of favour over the decades as cheaper materials and newer technologies have taken over, relegating the old gas-discharge tubes into storage — or to the scrap heap.

In Edmonton, however, businesses and community groups banded together to not only save these pieces of the city’s history, but to put them on display in Canada’s first and only Neon Sign Museum.

Original eight signs, image by Dave Sutherland

The switch was flipped to light the first eight signs — restored by local sign companies — on February 21, 2014. The museum rapidly became a unique, quirky, and popular sightseeing destination that was widely photographed.

The signs are mounted onto the side of a bunker-like telephone exchange building in the city’s warehouse district, the space having been generously donated for the museum by the building's owner.

Mounting new signs, image by Dave Sutherland

On March 18, 2016, an additional seven restored signs were lit up, extending the museum to an additional warehouse building across the street.

Extending the museum across the street, image by Dave Sutherland

Neon signs are often remembered fondly, forever associated in our minds with the heyday of vibrant cities and their downtowns, lighting up the city streets at night with their colourful glowing glass tubes. Through the efforts of many individuals and groups, these pieces of the city’s history shine once again and will continue to light up the downtown street beneath them for decades to come.

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