The Printing Museum

Basic Information

Address: 1324 W. Clay Street, Houston, TX 77019
Phone Number: 713-522-4652
Director: Jennifer C. Pearson

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The Printing Museum
The Printing Museum
The Printing Museum
The Printing Museum

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Additional Information

Days and Hours: 10AM to 4PM Tuesday through Saturday
Description:

Antique printing presses, rare books, prints and historic newspapers give you an opportunity to experience ways that people have used printing technologies to transform our lives. Moments in history--from the invention of paper and moveable type to the struggle for a free press in the young American Republic to important advances in printing and publishing in the 20th century, you will witness how each successive technological innovation was instrumental in leading to a greater exchange of information and ultimately to a more literate society. The Printing Museum makes its book and document collections accessible through display in various galleries:

Ghosts in the Books explores the development of writing, books and paper from the earliest clay tablets and papyrus scrolls to the beautiful illuminated manuscripts created by scribes and monks in the Middle Ages. Highlights include:

  • Mesopotamian Cylinder Seals (c. 3000-1000 BCE)
  • Ancient Papyrus Fragments (c. 300-350 BCE)
  • Asian Wood Type & Early Asian Printing (c. 8th & 19th Centuries CE)
  • Illuminated Manuscripts (c. 13th-16th Centuries CE)

Renaissance Gallery illustrates the rapid spread of information and exchange of ideas that was made possible by the invention of movable metal type and the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in Mainz, Germany, c. 1440 CE. Highlights include:

  • Working historically accurate replica of Gutenberg's press.
  • 15th- and 16th-Century Old Master Engravings from the Bader Collection.
  • Fine Arts Facsimile of the Gutenberg Bible.

George and Barbara Bush Americana Gallery reinforces the importance of the American free press and the role printing played in spreading news across a growing country. Highlights include:

  • Working 150-year old Columbian iron handpress.
  • Original Pennsylvania Gazette published by Benjamin Franklin in 1765.
  • Original New York Herald announcing the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.

The Texas History Gallery pays tribute to the first printer in Texas, Samuel Bangs, who settled in Galveston in 1838 and started the town's first newspaper, which still operates today. On display is one of the earliest surviving pieces printed by Bangs, in 1820, as well as the 1825 Ley de Colonizacion (Law of Colonization), which opened Texas to colonization by Anglo-Americans.

Hearst Newspaper Gallery displays early newspaper equipment, including a 20th century model Linotype machine, invented by Ottmar Merganthaler in 1886. Dubbed by Thomas Edison as "the eighth wonder of the world," the Linotype drastically changed the speed of production of newspapers and books, and is credited with a sharp increase in literacy rates in the early 1900s.

The Hall of Historic Headlines, dating from the 1610s to 2009, mark important historical events, such as, the sinking of the Titanic, the 1929 Stock Market Crash, the 1969 Moon Landing, and the election of President Barak Obama. Of note are four original Thomas Nast cartoons from Harper's Weekly that mark the first appearances in print of the Republican elephant, the Democratic donkey, Santa Claus and Uncle Sam.

The 20th Century Gallery highlights innovations in offset and four-color printing as well as business machines, like typewriters, the first Xerox® photocopier and an early Apple® Macintosh computer.

Grade Levels:
K-5
6-8
9-12
Disabled Access:

yes

Program Type:

 

Admission/Tickets: Guided Tours for ages 6 and younger are free. Ages 7-12 is $8 and for those 13+ years of age, it is $10/each. General Admission is $5.
Registration: To check availability and book a time, please call or email us at 713-522-4652 or info@printingmuseum.org
Food: Not available for purchase on site. We do not allow food or beverages on tours.
Length of Visit: A guided tour lasts approximately one hour
Max. Group Number: 20-25 per tour
Exhibits: The Museum of Printing History displays a dynamic collection of antique printing equipment, historical printed documents, and fine art prints. Our Museum is more, though, than its permanent collection. It is alive with exhibitions, lectures, workshops, and demonstrations. In its galleries and working studios are demonstrated the traditional processes of stone lithography, letterpress printing, papermaking and bookbinding. Artifacts in the collection range in eras from man’s earliest writing through the nineteenth century. Our exhibitions document history from man’s first printing on Mesopotamian clay tablets around 3000 B.C., through pre-Gutenberg manuscript production. It reflects the beginning of printing in Europe with Gutenberg’s invention of movable type, and illustrates printing of the Renaissance, the Age of Enlightenment, and beyond. A visitor will find displayed a leaf from William Caxton, the first printer of the English language; a Spanish-Nahuatl dictionary printed by Juan Pablos, the first printer in the Americas; Old Master woodcuts and engravings; and various other treasures. In addition, American Colonial printed documents and examples of early Texas printing are exhibited. In guided tours, visitors participate in the hands-on printing of a leaf of the Gutenberg Bible pulled from a reproduction press, and the printing of the Declaration of Independence on a 19th Century iron handpress. On view is an 1820s Albion press owned by Samuel Bangs, the first printer in Texas; a 1906 Harris press reflecting the beginning of offset printing; and a Xerox 914, the first plain paper copy machine which revolutionized office printing. Featured in the July 2006 issue of Texas Highways, the Museum is described as “a honeycomb of intimate gallery spaces…with a stunning collection of objects and artifacts devoted to the history, science and art of printing.” The portrait of the Museum concludes with the observation that “Printed text may be taken for granted these days, but a visit to the Museum of Printing History somehow makes it seem magical once again.”
Gift Shop/Factory Outlet: yes
Retail Store: yes
Reservations Needed: yes
Directions: Our Address: 1324 W. Clay Street
Houston, Texas 77019

(Just south of Allen Parkway between Waugh Drive and Montrose Boulevard.

Mission Statement:

The Printing Museum demonstrates the enduring impact of printing by exploring the intersections of the history, art and technology of the craft.

Facility History:

The Museum of Printing History was founded in 1979 by Raoul Beasley, Vernon P. Hearn, Don Piercy, and J. V. Burnham, four printers with passions for preserving their vast collections and sharing them with the community. The Museum was chartered in 1981 and had its official opening in 1982 with Dr. Hans Halaby, Director of the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz, Germany, cutting the ribbon. In 2012, the Museum rebranded as The Printing Museum.

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