Route 66 enthusiasts want a billboard and sign museum in Oklahoma
Route 66 enthusiasts are organizing to start a new museum in Bethany, Oklahoma, that will focus on billboards and signs from the historic highway.
BETHANY — From Chicago to the Pacific Ocean, billboards and neon signs have lined historic Route 66 for decades.
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Signs of the past are disappearing though, said Kathy Anderson, a Route 66 enthusiast and member of the Oklahoma Route 66 Association.
When Anderson travels old parts of “The Mother Road,” she tries to imagine what the buildings and cars looked like in past years along the highway built in 1936.
“When I am on less-traveled roads, I realize what is missing are the billboards,” Anderson said.
The idea of saving billboards percolated in her mind until “a light bulb went off,” she said.
“There should be a billboard museum,” Anderson said.
Anderson, who lives in Oklahoma City and works in advertising, has a group of city leaders in Bethany interested in the billboard project that also would include neon signs in a museum.
The idea will need space, she said.
“There is nothing shy, demure or petite about signs, and they need a space to be showcased,” Anderson said.
There are museums with signs and billboards along State Highway 66 in Oklahoma, but nowhere is there a museum exclusively for billboards or signs, she said.
A sign collector, a muralist, community advocate and others also are backing Anderson's idea.
Arlita Harris, secretary of the Bethany Improvement Foundation, said it is an original idea and a timely one.
Bethany has a “good stretch of the original Route 66 with century-old buildings and land along the highway for such a project,” she said.
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