I was finally able to visit Neon Museum in Warsaw, it was something I longed to do for a long time. Neon Museum is dedicated to the documentation and preservation of Poland's cold war era neon signs.
Neon signs appeared in grey, sad, communist Poland the 60's. The communist states' authorities (so in fact mainly CCCP authorities) at a conference in Czechoslovakia decided to allow neons in cities. They were meant to bring us spirit of the modernity. In contrast to neons in the West they did not serve advertising purposes, they were to inform.
Neon signs were designed together with buildings and had to be approved before the permission to raise the building was given - that's why they matched architecture perfectly. The designers of neon signs were often the best designers and architects of that time - just look at these fantastic typefaces! The sophisticated neon lettering is their greatest value. Some of the neons were important landmarks in the cities, and often became the logos of companies for many years - such as Społem and Cepelia neon signs.
And how do neon signs work?If you look at the pictures from the inside you will see that neon acquires its color after ignition - how is that possible? Glass tubes which form the neons can be filled with two types of gas - argon or neon. Neon glows giving red light, argon gives blue light. So to get green neon sign we have to fill a yellow glass tube with argon.Unfortunately, the endurance of neon signs is 10 years tops. In the 90's these already empty dark tubes, that for many were symbols of the old, were gradually replaced with modern advertisements and ended in garbage. Fortunately, there were people aware of their artistic value, like hotographer Ilona Karwińska, the Neon Museum's owner, who is also the author of great photos of neon signs.
|Neons' technical drawings.|
|shot from movie "Neon" by Eric Bednarski, 2014|
references: warsawtour.pl, Muzeum Neonów, bydgoszcz,gazeta.pl, culture.pl