Written by: Mary Rhode, Marketing & Communications Manager
I had the opportunity to get a sneak peak at the new exhibit opening up at the History Museum at the Castle. The exhibit is called NEON: Darkness Electrified and opened Nov. 12 and runs until Fall 2015. Being so passionate about marketing and advertising, I knew this exhibit would be right up my alley. Most of these signs were once on the sides of businesses in Wisconsin and other states. For those businesses that had more money to spend on their sign, they had flashing lights to attract more attention to their business. From large to small, these signs illuminate the past including some signs from the 1930’s. Even though these signs are quite beautiful to look at, there is also an educational component to this exhibit. For instance, I learned what makes neon glow and that the famous Northern Lights are created by the same phenomenon!
Today, when most people think of neon signs, they think of the beer signs that illuminate the windows of their favorite bar or restaurant. As this exhibit shows you, the beer signs of yesteryear were much simpler, yet still remain an iconic look at the past.
One of the more interesting displays, in my opinion, was the Florida Power Corporation sign. This sign, circa 1950’s boasts blue, red and white glowing neon as well as the face of a character known as Reddy Kilowatt. This character was used nationwide to promote the use of electricity in the 1950’s. There even was a large sign with Reddy displayed along the Fox River in Appleton during that time.