Through our permanent exhibits, the Museum of Printing History narrates the story of written communication and the ways in which the technologies of printing have transformed our lives. Our galleries trace significant developments from ancient Mesopotamian clay tablets, to the Chinese invention of movable type, to Johann Gutenberg's printing press. American history is dramatized through newspaper accounts of major events from the American Revolution to the Civil War; Texas history is told through the life of the state's first printer, with a press he owned and a display of the documents and newspapers he printed. The Hearst Newspaper Gallery demonstrates the emergence of modern printing, and our exhibit of historic newspapers documents pivotal moments in recent history.
Join us for tours featuring hands-on printing: see a sheet of the Gutenberg Bible pulled just as it was in 1455; watch the Declaration of Independence printed on a 19th-century iron handpress; view colonial documents, including a Pennsylvania Gazette printed by Ben Franklin in 1765; read eyewitness accounts of the struggle for Texas independence, told from both sides of the events.
Artifacts in the collection range in time from humanity's earliest writing through the twenty-first century. Our exhibitions document history from the origins of printing on Mesopotamian clay tablets around 3000 B.C., through pre-Gutenberg manuscript production. The collection 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.
The Museum features artifacts such as:
Mesopotamian Cylinder Seals
Ancient Papyrus Fragments
Asian Movable Type & early Asian Printing
1450 Gutenberg Press Replica
Old Master Etchings & Engravings
Ben Franklin’s “Pennsylvania Gazette”
Documents printed by Samuel Bangs, first printer in Texas, with one of his presses
1830 Star-wheel Oak Lithography Press
Letterpress & Type Collection
Antique Bookbinding Equipment
The Museum features four working galleries with vintage equipment. The crafts of stone lithography, letterpress printing, papermaking, and bookbinding are demonstrated by resident artists. Check our classes page for upcoming workshops.
The Museum also presents rotating exhibitions highlighting fine art prints, rare books, and artifacts. Keep an eye out for our educational and entertaining programs, lectures, and special events.