OTE - Oregon Travel Experience

Museum and Historic Site Sign Rates and FAQ

If you would like to bypass the FAQs section and proceed to the application process, please scroll down the page to the “Technical Resources” section.


Oregon Travel Experience sign fees are determined by highway location and traffic density (how many vehicles pass specific mile-marker locations).

Our fee schedules categorize permits by sign type and location. If unclear about the cost after reviewing the files, please contact us (by email) or telephone 503-373-0086, and we will be happy to give you an estimate. Please review the two fee schedules below.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are they?
Museum and historic site signs are seen as alternatives to billboard advertising by many businesses, but in fact they are classified as traffic control devices and must meet all regulations set by the Federal Highway Administration and state sign standards.  They must fall within the restrictive requirements of federal and state sign regulations, or ODOT can lose a percentage of its federal funding.

Museum or historic site signs consist of a brown panel with white letters stating the name of a qualified museum or historic site as well as directional information (right turn, left turn, etc.). The signs are located on non-Interstate or rural highways.

Do I qualify for a sign at my selected location?
Unfortunately, signs may not be available at all locations. Federal and state rules govern sign placement, the number of signs in any given area, and what types of businesses are allowed on signs. We will work with you to research availability, and place you on a wait-list if applicable. There is no charge to apply for a sign permit or to retain your rank on the wait-list.

How long does it take to get museum or historic site sign?
In addition to our criteria and roadway review process, new sign installations require an ODOT engineering review. Our goal is to turn around sign applications within 30 days. Oregon Department of Transportation is allowed another 40 days on reviews which are forwarded to them. Once approved, the timetable adjusts based on the time required to fabricate the signs and have them installed by a specified sign crew. The total estimated time for the entire process is 90-120 days.

What does a museum or historic site sign cost?
Sign fees are based according to ODOT traffic counts and how much traffic actually uses the roadways and highways nearest your facility. A more rural facility that sees less traffic would be assessed a lower fee as opposed to a facility located within or near a major metropolitan area. Please refer to the sign fee schedules at the top of this page. (These fees are not due until the signs have been approved by OTE and ODOT.)

How does a facility qualify for museum or historic site signs?
A qualified museum is a facility approved by OTE (after consultation with the Oregon Historical Society and the Oregon Museum Association) that exists on a permanent basis for essentially educational or aesthetic purposes. Museum offerings must be the facility’s primary source of business with objects exhibited to the public through the museum’s buildings and with an attendant on duty.

A qualified historic site is a district or property listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Businesses offering gas, food, lodging and camping services must apply for logo signs, not museum or historic site signs. If your business is within the categories of a typical logo business, review either the Interstate logo or off-Interstate logo application packets. Please note that eligibility, qualifications and criteria for logo signs differ significantly from museum or historic site signs.

What is the minimum level of services required for museum or historic site signs?
Except for undeveloped historic sites, a qualified facility must have:

An undeveloped historic site must have an informational device to provide public information about the feature.

What areas or locations are considered eligible for museum or historic site signs?
Museum or historic site signs may be installed along non-Interstate, rural highways as long as the signs meet highway sign spacing requirements.

Museum or historic site signs cannot be placed in an area that is urban in nature; therefore, businesses located in downtown (city center) areas may not qualify because the urban congestion would prevent us from installing a sign.

There are some places in the state that have been determined “full” and additional signs are unlikely due to the congestion of signs already installed. Some of those locations are: Bandon, Coos Bay, Florence, Newport, Lincoln City, Seaside, Astoria, McMinnville, Dundee, Newberg, Sherwood.

Are museum or historic site signs allowed on Interstate highways or expressways?
No. Museum or historic site signs are restricted to secondary highways that are not classified as Interstate highways or expressways.

How far away from the highway can a facility be and still qualify?
A business must be located within 3 miles of the interchange but they may apply for a distance waiver up to 15 miles.

How can motorists find the facility if it is not visible at the highway intersection?
A typical museum installation consists of two signs in each direction at locations along the highway near the facility. First, a museum sign in advance of the intersection is placed approximately 1/4 mile prior to the intersection. This sign, referred to as an “advance” museum sign, is required and provides motorists with the information needed to allow them adequate time to slow down and turn safely off the highway. A second sign, called an “intersection” museum sign, is installed near the intersection and provides additional guidance to the motorists by using a directional arrow and distance to the facility.

What if a motorist can see the museum but I simply want a sign to let them know the museum is up ahead?
To qualify for museum signs, a facility must not be visible or recognizable to the motorist within 300 feet of the approaching intersection or access to the facility. If there are road conditions (brush, trees, etc.) that hinder the visibility within that 300 foot area, the museum may qualify for signs.

How much advertising can be put on a sign?
None. Only the facility’s registered business name or a portion of that name is allowed by federal standards.

What if the museum or historic site name changes?
If a replacement is requested by the customer due to a name change, a fee is charged to cover the costs of manufacture and installation of the new signs.

Can private clubs have museum or historic site signs?
No. Only facilities open to the general public are allowed signage.

Technical resources

The following application and cover letter (explaining the TOD category) are available for you to download on your computer. To read PDF files, you will need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader. This is free downloadable software on the Adobe solutions website and will help you to print out your application and fill in by hand. Unless you have Adobe Pro (a paid software component) you will not be able to fill in the above permit applications on your computer. The files have not been formatted to allow for this. If you would prefer documents in Word, which may be filled out on your computer, please use this link. Please contact our office if you experience any difficulties printing your brochure and we will mail you one.

For other sign types

Visit our Highway Business Signs main information page for links to other highway sign permits administered by Oregon Travel Experience.