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Neon Beer Sign Exhibition Opens in L.A.

Nov 17, 2004 - Neon on Tap: A Historical Retrospective of the Great American Beer Sign, is now showing at the Museum of Neon Art in downtown Los Angeles, California. Approximately 20 beer-company signs, manufactured from the 1940s to the present, are featured in the exhibition. Kim Koga, the Museum's director, had wanted to curate a beer-sign show for years, but when the museum acquired a Haufbrau sign from a 1950s Oakland restaurant earlier this year, the stage was set for the exhibition. The sign depicts a brewmaster pulling a tap and filling a mug, is a double-sided, animated design, built from thicker-than-normal neon tubing (15mm rather than 12mm-13mm), and serves as the exhibition's centerpiece, around which small, often rare, brewery signs are arranged. Beer signs went into large-scale mass production in 1933, after the end of Prohibition, when assembly-line production efficiencies, and production innovations in materials and electronics made new neon designs possible. Neon on Tap has glass and metal signs, as well as plastic specimens, and features an old-fashioned Bakelite sign from the former Cleveland-based Leisy's Brew Company. There are signs appealing to specific geographical regions, like the Miller sign featuring a glowing neon Golden Gate Bridge. Koga thinks it may be the first show of its kind, and has tried to feature a variety of beer neons. "Of course, we could have filled the museum with Bud signs, but we limited ourselves to two," she said. Neon on Tap: An Historical Retrospective of the Great American Beer Sign is now at Museum of Neon Art in downtown Los Angeles. Phone (213) 489-9918. Closes April 3, 2005. It's on the web at Neonmona.org.

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