Neon museum considered in Saskatoon after sign saved from Chinese restaurant

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WATCH: The rescuers of the Ming's Kitchen neon sign hope it could be the catalyst to creating a neon sign museum in Saskatoon. – Jul 25, 2018

A neon sign saved from demolition at a Saskatoon Chinese restaurant could be the first step in establishing an outdoor museum in the city.

Last week, urban photographer and painter Henry van Seters helped remove a 15-foot wide neon sign, which sat atop Ming’s Kitchen since 1973.

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“I think of neon signs and good signage in a general way as sort of public art,” van Seters said.

He and Dave Denny, the owner of the historic Drinkle3 building, squeezed the sign into the back of a grain truck and placed it in storage.

“We could make something really spectacular here. We’ve already got the materials and can give people another reason to come downtown and remember the history and just have fun,” Denny said.

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They hope to possibly create an outdoor museum for neon signs, similar to what Edmonton unveiled in 2014.

The first of its kind in Canada, Edmonton’s neon sign museum includes 20 restored markers open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Downtown Saskatoon Business Improvement District has been “quietly” looking at the possibility of a neon sign museum for a few years, according to executive director Brent Penner.

“Really, it could be one organization that says ‘yeah we’re interested’ or maybe it takes two or three to come together to do something,” Penner said.

“We’ll just see if this gets any traction.”

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A proper building exterior is needed and the cost of such a museum in Saskatoon remains unclear.

Sponsorships and donated labour from local sign companies could play a major role, according to Paul Vass, president of the Saskatchewan chapter of the Sign Association of Canada.

“It really is expensive and [there are] a lot of restrictions and also the costs of running those types of signs can be very prohibitive too,” Vass said.
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Vass hopes to see a building owner in downtown Saskatoon offer up his or her wall, preferably on a heritage building.