Behrends Group is no stranger to building historical memory and one of our most recent projects has embodied this concept perfectly: The Edmonton Neon Sign Museum. The first of its kind in Canada, this outdoor installation is a growing collection of historic signs from Edmonton’s past. Gathered together by The Alberta Sign Association, this unique museum revitalizes the downtown landscape on 104th street. Working with the City of Edmonton, different zoning and preservation strategies have been adopted to maintain the historic character of the area and the sign museum is a significant part of it.
The concept started when David Holdsworth, an urban designer with the City of Edmonton, was walking by an old furniture store in 2004. Workers were removing its iconic neon sign and said that it was destined for the junk pile. Seeing treasure in another man’s trash, Holdsworth convinced them to give it to him. Eventually, with the right partnerships, Holdsworth collected many more signs and led the push to open the Neon Museum. Now the amount of signs are growing and many more are going to be replicated or refurbished from some of the City’s more iconic looks. The fact that it is free and provides people with something interesting to look at is all part of the City’s commitment to breathe life into the downtown core. The touch of nostalgia that neon provides contributes to preserving Edmonton’s historical landscape and makes the city stand out.