School Tours

Explore the science, history, and art behind neon signs through our S.T.E.A.M. based programs! 

Grades K-3

Mixing Light: 
Color Tour

Using examples of colored light in the exhibit, students will be introduced to color theory.

Grades 2-5

It’s a Gas! 
The Science of Neon 

​​Learn what neon is, how it was discovered, and why it glows!

Grades 6-12

Neon Signs: 
Where Art MeetsScience 

Learn about both the technology and design elements that go into creating neon signs

Adult Tours

Adult and bus tour groups should contact Curator Emily Rock to arrange for a visit to the exhibit.

Emily Rock, Curator

920-735-9370 x. 115

Neon: Darkness Electrified

Opens November 12

Neon signs were once the primary form of storefront advertising in the United States from the 1920s to 1960s. During this period, these eye-catching and affordable signs were symbols of modernity, consumerism and the excitement of travel on the open road.

During neon’s heyday, Appleton’s College Avenue was not immune to the lure of the colored lights, and the street was once aglow with many neon storefronts.  The exhibit explores the science behind the glow of the tubes, the social history of neon—its rise and fall as the premier advertising medium—and neon’s legacy as both nostalgic popular culture and advertising history.

About the Signs and Artisan

This exhibit showcases 30 vintage neon signs from the collection of Jed Schleisner (Greenville, Wisconsin). Jed is a leading neon collector and a neon sign artisan, one of the last in the Fox Valley. Highlighting the best examples from his collection, the signs span five decades of restaurants, beer brands, automobile dealerships, and fraternal lodges, several of which were once represented in the Fox Cities. Other signs come from throughout the United States will illuminate an evolution of popular cultural from Route 66 to main street Americana.

Plan Your Visit


Includes access to all exhibits

Adult $7.50

​Children (5-17) $3.50

Seniors (65+) $5.50

Students w/ ID $5.50

Under 5 FREE

​Families $20

(2 adults and minors)

​Museum members FREE


Tuesday - Sunday

11:00 am - 4:00 pm


History Museum at the Castle

330 E. College Avenue

Appleton, WI 54911


Sheila Ploeckelman

Business Manager

920.735.9370 x. 104

Tuesday - Sunday

11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

330 E. College Ave., Appleton, WI


Thanks to Our Sponsors 

Union Carpenters Local 955 Retired, Mills Fleet Farm, OMNNI Associates,
Fox Banquets Rivertyme Catering,Geoffrey T. Crowley Family Foundation,
Cross and Oberlie, Radisson Paper Valley Hotel, Wayne and Bette Defferding,
Ann and Paul Whalen, Maureen Schleisner, Copperleaf Hotel,Ed and Sandy Bush, Appleton Career Academy, Chadwick’s Bar, Jones Sign, Outagamie County