Remembering the History of Glens Falls, Queensbury and the Southern Adirondacks


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Exhibits at the Chapman Historical Museum

The Secret Life of Signs

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Signs, signs, and more signs…  Whether you are driving to work, taking a vacation road trip, walking to school or shopping downtown, signs are everywhere.  Yet, how often do we pause to actually notice them and consider their significance?   Signs are not merely oversized, public advertisements.  Some are examples of skilled craftsmanship and years of trade experience.  Some can share a history of a product long since vanished from store shelves or a service no longer offered for lack of demand.  Other signs serve as visual landmarks that prompt recollections of childhood or stand as a physical testament to a specific location.  They can be colorful or faded; bold or whimsical; painted or lit with electricity or gas.  Each one has a character all its own and each one deserves to tell its story.  

“The Secret Life of Signs” examines the evolution of signage from the end of the 19th century through the mid-20th century, with a regional emphasis on Warren, Washington and northern Saratoga Counties.  Wonderful examples of ghost signs, neon signs, and vintage plastic signs are highlighted.  The exhibit also discusses signs in relation to commercial architecture, developments in typography and graphic design, the art and craft of sign production, and how signs reflect changes in popular culture.

Project funded by grants from the Leo Cox Beach Philanthropic Foundation, the Waldo T. & Ruth S. Ross Charitable Trust, the City of Glens Falls and the Town of Queensbury, and a gift from Michael J. Bucek.

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