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Fundraising launched for Route 66 billboard museum March 10, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Museums, Preservation, Signs.
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A fundraising campaign has been launched for a planned Route 66 billboard museum west of Oklahoma City, according to an Associated Press report.

AP reporter Kristi Eaton, who’s posted other stories about Route 66 in Oklahoma, wrote:

Kathy Anderson, president of the nonprofit Billboard Museum Association Inc., and others envision the Billboard Museum as an educational and immersive museum along Route 66 near Bethany or Yukon that will house and display unique art and advertising dating back to the late 1800s. An indoor museum will house a variety of exhibits, while an outdoor driving loop will showcase vintage billboard structures and other signs. Buying the undeveloped land alone could cost up to $4 million, Anderson said. […]

Anderson, joined by Jim Gleason, vice president of the association and a second generation sign-maker, and secretary-treasurer Monica Knudsen, unveiled the museum’s logo and new website at a vintage sign and mural workshop and demonstration this month for about 30 family, friends and colleagues.

Anderson said the group seeks both individual memberships and corporate sponsors. For now, Superior Neon of Oklahoma City is acting as storage for old signs and as a temporary headquarters for the museum’s organizers.

Anderson, by the way, is a former president of the Oklahoma Route 66 Association.

The group also launched a website here. Memberships start at $25 and range up to $1,000. Donations are tax-deductible. Charter memberships are available, but only through 2015.

This is an excerpt from the first two paragraphs of the website:

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, billboards are an essential part of the U.S. travelscape. Their messages have entertained us and sometimes provoked us. They’ve even been called the art gallery of the American highway. And because they are everywhere, their place in shaping and reinforcing our culture is often overlooked.

The sign industry is undergoing a digital revolution. Techniques such as hand painting, sheet tiling and pasting are fading away. These techniques along with the stories of these pioneers and artists of the billboard industry need to be preserved. The art and messages once showcased on the boards is classic and speaks to a time America is rapidly forgetting. These need to be brought back to the public view.

A mural museum devoted to outdoor advertising exists in Pontiac, Ill. But the size of the Oklahoma museum would be much larger.

It’s an idea that’s worthy — and overdue.

(Image of a billboard on Route 66 in Illinois by Peer Lawther via Flickr)

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