AEPM annual conference 2019
Safeguarding intangible heritage.
Passing on printing techniques to future generations
23-25 May 2019
Nationaal Museum van de Speelkaart
Intangible heritage in printing museums
The 1980s and the decades which followed saw the creation of a large number of printing museums and heritage workshops in the wake of the replacement of letterpress printing by offset litho and the extraordinarily rapid adoption of desktop publishing and digital pre-press. These museums and workshops preserved not only the machines, equipment and techniques of printing which had recently disappeared off the industrial scene. They were also able to preserve the skills and knowledge of the craft workers who operated them. Indeed many museums and workshops were set up by, or with the active collaboration of printers who in many cases had recently retired. Forty years on, the generation of printers who had spent their professional lives in letterpress, direct lithography and photoengraving workshops, and who had an intimate knowledge of the techniques which they employed is retiring for a second time, this time definitively.
Turning the page…
In recent years, printing museums and heritage workshops have become increasingly preoccupied with the problem of how to preserve and transmit the traditional skills necessary to continue using what have now become historical machines and processes. Some techniques have found a second home for themselves in creative workshops where, for several generations already they have been used, adapted and renewed. In this way many of the techniques of wood cutting and engraving, copperplate engraving and etching and stone lithography have been preserved and transmitted. The techniques and skills of letterpress printing have also been preserved and transmitted, in this case by fine printers and small publishers who place traditional methods of production at the heart of their activity. Most of these workshops are oriented principally towards some form of artistic or creative production. Only a few include the preservation and transmission of printing heritage – whether tangible or intangible – among their core missions, leaving such activities to printing museums and other organisations which identify themselves on some level with heritage workshops.
The challenges facing printing heritage
Printing museums are the most visible champions of printing heritage. But even they have to face formidable difficulties when it comes to transmitting the intangible heritage of printing. Resources are generally scarce. Budgets are modest (to say the least), skilled personnel is scarce both for the restoration, running and maintenance of machines and for the development and day-to-day running of educational activities and mediation programmes. Even for larger institutional museums, the specificities of printing heritage are often difficult to reconcile with bureaucratic imperatives. Employing a printer in a public museum, for example, is a veritable obstacle race with the result that essential working knowledge of a central aspect of the collections can be all too easily lost if the existing printer changes job or retires.
As printing has evolved from the craft period, through the industrial era and into the digital age, printing techniques have become increasingly sophisticated and the knowledge required to exploit them increasingly specialised. As a result the preservation and transmission of traditional techniques and skills are among the biggest challenges facing printing museums, heritage workshops and other organisations involved in printing heritage.
Susanne Richter, Museum für Druckkunst, Leipzig, Germany // Young-tack Oh, Early Printing Museum, Cheongju, South Korea // Katharina Walter + Ulrike Koloska, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany // Robin Boone, Industriemuseum, Ghent, Belgium // Ludivine Onuczak, Maison de l’imprimerie, Thuin, Belgium // Richard Ardagh, The Type Archive, London, United Kingdom // Mats Larsson, GRAMUS, Sweden // Mana Kaasik, Estonian printing and paper museum, Tartu, Estonia // Maarten Kentgens, Dutch Lithography Musem, Valkenswaarde, The Netherlands
Talks will be principally in English, discussions in whatever language works.
Sessions will be held at the at the Nationaal Museum van de Speelkaart and the HIVSET auditorium, a short walk from the Museum.
Thursday 23 May 2019
At the Nationaal Museum van de Speelkaart, Druivenstraat 18, Turnhout
14.00 – 19.00
Arrival of participants and registration
Informal visit of the exhibition Turnhouts drukwerk (Printed in Turnhout).
19.00 – 22.00
Welcome speeches by Paul Van Miert, mayor of Turnhout and Alan Marshall, AEPM Chair.
Demonstrations of printing, playing card finishing and book binding.
Card tricks and Blackjack demonstration.
Reception with Belgian beers
Friday 24 May 2019
HIVSET auditorium, Herentalsstraat 70 (150 meters from the museum)
Director of Archives and Museums, City of Turnhout
Director of the Nationaal Museum van de Speelkaart
Recognising printing as intangible heritage
Dr. Susanne Richter
Director, Museum für Druckkunst, Leipzig, Germany
Towards a European lobby for intangible printing heritage
Printing museums are currently facing a real challenge. They try to preserve the knowledge of printing techniques and keep the machines in their collections working. Each museum has its own solution and works with specialists in their own local network. What we really need as museums for the future, however, is a European lobby for printing museums. Only by working together can we can convince a broad section of the general public and the authorities in different countries that we are preserving a very important cultural heritage, in times of digitization.
March 15th 2019 saw the first national Day of the Printing Arts in Germany, organised on the occasion of the recognition of printing techniques as intangible heritage by the German Council of Unesco the previous year. More than 250 participants all over Germany – graphic artists as well as museums – helped to make the event a success. It is hoped that this effective initiative will be opened up to more European countries in March 2020.
Museums and artists working with printing techniques today need a strong lobby. Without a lobby, all our efforts of preservation will be in vain. That means museums and artists must work closer together to to be more visible. To continue to offer innovative activities we need greater recognition on the part of political authorities. A Europe-wide project could be the solution for the future of the printing arts.
Let’s bring analogue techniques and social media together to attract more and younger people!
Susanne Richter was born in Berlin in 1965 and now lives in Leipzig and Berlin. In 1992 she obtained an MA in art history followed by a PhD in 1996. After a period as assistant curator at the Staatliche Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe from 1996 till 1998 she became marketing and communication officer for a printing and publishing house in Karlsruhe (2000- 2007). Since 2007 she is director and manager of the private museum foundation which runs the Museum für Druskkunst (Museum of Printing Arts) Leipzig. Between 2013-2018 she was the co-instigator, together with the German Artists’ Association, for the recognition of printing techniques as intangible heritage in Germany.
Director general, Cheongju Early Printing Museum, Cheongju City, South Korea
Korea’s efforts in preserving and transmitting traditional printing culture
Korea had developed high-level printing technology that produced Mugujeonggwang dae Darani gyeong (The Great Dharani Sutra) in 751, the world’s oldest existing woodblock print and Jikji (1377), the world’s oldest surviving work printed with movable metal type. In particular, Jikji is known to have been published 78 years prior to Johannes Gutenberg’s acclaimed 42-Line Bible printed during the years 1452-1455.
Traditional Korean printing technology, which is characterized by using woodblocks and moveable metal types, eventually became obsolete in the course of modernization in the late 19th century following the introduction of Western printing techniques. Today, however, Korea’s traditional printing technology has revived as a creative process with multifaceted cultural contents. Central and local governments are actively collaborating on restoring and transmitting traditional printing culture such as woodblocks, moveable metal type, traditional paper making, ink sticks for calligraphy, etc. A wide range of traditional skills and techniques unique to Korea are being transmitted by masters and practitioners in the field. Museums, exhibitions and workshops are the main venues where preservation, learning and experience take place.
Young-tack Oh, is Director General of the Cheongju Early Printing Museum, Republic of Korea. Since he took up the position last year, he has been a key player in contributing to the preservation of Korea’s early printing culture. Having served in the government for more than 40 years with expertise in economic and cultural development, he also received a President’s Commendation in 2013 for contributing to national development.
11.00 – Coffee break at Chaos (located next to HIVSET auditorium)
Katharina Walter, Image Knowledge Gestaltung, Humboldt-University, Berlin, Germany
Ulrike Koloska, Seminar on Artistic-Aesthetic Practice, Humboldt-University, Berlin, Germany
The printing workshop as a laboratory of knowledge: future aspects for research, handcraft and museological practices
How can scientific and artistic research be connected appropriately with museological practices for the maintenance and advancement of the intangible heritage of printing? The possibilities and limits of different interdisciplinary approaches are discussed from points of view of art-histotry and cultural studies, and based on examples of current projects.
With respect to the change in attitudes which is generally observed, craft techniques have recently been investigated as cultural techniques in practice-based historical research while at the same time being the objects of transformation in the field of art and design. Traditional printing techniques, in particular, currently offer a broad field of experimentation combining historical and artistic research.
By enabling interdisciplinary research of cultural, technical, and functional histories, museums can be looked at as a museological laboratory with the aim of creating new experiences with historical objects, materials and collections. Apart from an authentic experience of craftsmanship, the focus is on the practice-based research methods focussing on and using artifacts such as machinery, tools, paper, printed works etc., for the purposes of an experimental approach to media archeology.
The future-oriented model of a printing workshop as a laboratory of knowledge offers new perspectives on the issues of aesthetic, political and cultural concepts when looking at how an active creative space may be created and coexist with the needs of conservation.
Katharina Walter holds a Master’s degree in communication design and a Master’s degree in cultural history and theory. She graduated with a thesis on the design of Adrian Frutiger’s Univers typeface, and in connection with this she worked on the archiving of Frutiger’s bequest to the Museum für Gestaltung in Zürich. Since August 2013 she has been working as a research associate for the Cluster of Excellence Image Knowledge Gestaltung, an interdisciplinary laboratory at Humboldt-University. As part of her PhD thesis she addressed the media-historical aspects of phototypesetting.
Ulrike Koloska studied art and visual history at Humboldt University and theatre studies at Freie Universität in Berlin. As a student and research associate she studied traditional printing techniques such as woodcut, etching, lithography and silkscreen printing and since 2010 has been developing formats for interdisciplinary research and teaching at the Seminar on Artistic-Aesthetic Practice (Humboldt University). Based on the question on how new artistic concepts for bonds, collaborations and new forms of reception can be developed she realized specific exhibition-projects and workshops.
Robin Boone, Industriemuseum, Ghent, Belgium
Ludivine Onuczak, Maison de l’imprimerie, Thuin, Belgium
Preserving heritage-related know-how in so-called ‘living’ museums: the case of the Monotype
The preservation of museum objects is already an art in itself. Optimal conditions are sought by all and sometimes difficult to obtain. The task is even more difficult when it comes to technical artefacts. As the last practical use of objects recedes in time, those with know-how to make them work become ever more scarce. In the best case scenario they managed to transmit their knowledge. But sometimes they do not find successors and practical knowledge is lost.
This is particularly true of industrial heritage for which the evolution of techniques requires new know-how. As machines which were once used find their way into museums their practical use does not follow, or follows only in a fragmentary manner. Even in the case where successors are found knowledge is lost because daily use become more episodic. And as time passes the problem of the dissolution of knowledge becomes more acute.
The Monotype composing machine poses just such problems. Relatively rare in workshops at the time when it was in regular use, it is even more so in museums. Today, in Belgium, Monotype specialists can be counted on the fingers of one hand.
This is why the industriemuseum (formerly the MIAT) in Ghent and the Thuin Maison de l’imprimerie have decided to preserve this intangible heritage through a training programme aimed at transmitting this precious knowledge. For the organisations involved it is almost ‘missions impossible’, but the challenge has to be faced. After a Monotype apprenticeship at the French Imprimerie Nationale, they have set up a program to wake these beauties.
Robin Boone (1965 Gent/Belgium) studied history (RUG Gent) & graphic techniques (lithography) & drawing at Sint-Lucas Gent and KASK Gent. Worked as exhibitions assistant in Museum of Fine Arts Ghent before becoming an independent artist/draughtsman and exhibition curator. Founder of the not-for-profit organisation Helix vzw in 1997, artistic office for productions and research in contemporary art and graphic art which has worked with most of well known belgian contemporay artists on international shows all over Europe and beyond. Founder and owner of the art contractor company HELIX Art & Technics bvba in 2015 – production and realisation of exhibitions in art , science and history. Since 2007, coordinator of the historical printing department of MIAT now Industriemuseum Gent.
Ludivine Onuczak. (1976/La Hestre, Belgium) After studying history of art (ULB) and oriental philology (Egyptology) at ULB, Ludivine worked for many years as lecturer-guide at the Museum of Mariemont and asa teacher of the history of art. Appointed director of the Maison de l’Imprimerie of Thuin in 2013, sheis in chargeof coordinating exhibitions and public relations.
12.30 – Lunch at Chaos (buffet)
Case studies in transmitting printing heritage
The Type Archive, London, United Kingdom
For centuries the production of printers’ type was a highly secretive business. Typefounding was a difficult trade to penetrate and very few records exist documenting the ‘dark art’ of punchcutting. The coming of Tolbert Lanston’s Monotype Corporation in the early 1900s brought about the mechanisation of both the production of type and its setting, making commercial output at a far larger scale possible and, in the process, revolutionising what had formerly been a method of manufacture entirely reliant upon knowledge passed down by example and word-of-mouth. The shrouded mysteries of the punchcutter became formalised under this new incarnation of precision engineering.
Thankfully, despite not being known to many, the method of punchcutting and production of matrices developed at Monotype, as well as its specialist machinery, have been preserved at the Type Archive in London. Studying under Paraminder Kumar Rajput, a Monotype employee of 59 years experience, Richard Ardagh has been learning, practising and helping to document this process since 2017. His apprenticeship has coincided with an exceptional commission: the production ‘Hungry Dutch’, a typeface designed by Russel Maret and the first new Monotype series for composition casting in over 40 years.
Through the lens of his own experience, Ardagh will outline the process of engraving punches, illustrated by examples from the Hungry Dutch project which galvanised the need to understand the entire operation, including the creation of the charts necessary to cut a punch and their 10,000th of an inch measurements.
Richard Ardagh is a graphic designer and letterpress printer. Alongside his eponymous design practice he is partner of New North Press letterpress studio and has taught at Central St Martins. In 2014, he commissioned a prototype 3D-printed letterpress font, ‘A23D’, which went on to win an award for Typographic Excellence from Type Directors Club, New York.
A printing skills transmission project
GRAMUS, the Swedish Printing Museum Association, is a network organization of 14 printing museums, most of them small and run by volunteers. In 2013–2014 and again in 2016–2017 we carried out a knowledge transmission project, with financial support from the National Heritage Board. The aim of the project was to provide training opportunities for younger museum staff and volunteers. During the first leg of the project, courses were held in manual and hot-metal typesetting, letterpress printing, lithography and offset printing. Guide training and printing history lectures were also included. The courses were held during weekends at four different printing museums. Twenty-six participants from eight museums attended the courses. The second leg was mainly a follow-up of the first one, but new topics such as hand papermaking and different image printing methods were added. The talk aims to share experiences from the project and to discuss benefits, problems and possible improvements.
Mats Larsson works as librarian at the Department of manuscripts and special collections at Lund University Library and is a member of the board of the Swedish Printing Museum Association GRAMUS.
15.00 – Coffee break at Chaos
Case studies in transmitting printing heritage (continued)
Mana Kaasik and Agneszka Kunz
Eesti Trykimuuseum (Estonian printing and paper museum), Tartu, Estonia
Estonian Print and Paper Museum: The big story of a little book
Many people in this conference come from printing museums. Even though our institutions generally share the same mission, our experience – as well as the understanding of what a printing museum is – can be very different just like the approach to the preservation of the heritage of printing: from a museum with a static exposition to an institution that resembles more a studio/workshop than a museum. No approach is better than the other, but it is every museum’s responsibility to preserve the skills and transfer the knowledge of printing to the next generations. But how to do that? Where to find the people who can still teach us? Are we able to learn things on our own?
We would like to share our experience from the Estonian Print and Paper Museum – a museum that has aimed to be a working museum since it’s start on 2010. We use our machines to print postcards, tickets, posters, business cards as well as to work on art projects. Nothing here is behind the glass as we want our visitors to get a similar hands-on approach that our workers and volunteers get almost every day.
Only recently though did we try to step out from our comfort zone and to work on something bigger. In February 2019 we finished the special edition of The Little Prince – composed, printed and bound in our museum. It took hundreds of hours of work; tears when we made mistakes and happiness when we managed to learn something new. We understood that some things can only be learned from direct experience. Let us share our story with you.
Mana Kaasik (born in 1992) started volunteering at the Estonian Print and Paper Museum in 2012. After graduating from the University of Tartu department of history, she was hired as collections manager and worked at the position until 2018. Currently she is studying media design and her main responisibility at the museum is graphic design and letterpress printing.
Director, Nederlands Steendrukmuseum, Valkenswaarde, The Netherlands
Passing on the techniques of lithography to future generations at the Nederlands Steendrukmuseum
16.30 – 17.00
Round-up and practical announcements
19.00 – 23.30
Bus ride to restaurant in the region for a convivial dinner (included in the registration fee for all participants and accompanying persons.)
Saturday 25 May 2019
At the Nationaal Museum van de Speelkaart, Druivenstraat 18.
09.00 – 10.30
Annual general meeting of the AEPM
Although the annual general meeting is, strictly speaking, reserved for AEPM members only, non-members are encouraged to attend (in a non voting capacity) as it offers and excellent occasion to discover the Association’s various activities and, why not, to become involved.
09.00 – 10.30
Informal Museum visit
Participants not attending the annual general meeting can continue to discover the pleasures of the Nationaal Museum van de Speelkaart’s permanent and temporary exhibitions.
10.30 – 11.15
Short communications and news from museums and closing discussion
Contributions will include:
Patrick Goossens, Letter-Kunde
Saving intangible heritage ‘avant la lettre’. The search for type casting knowledge at the Plantin Moretus Museum
José Francisco Castro, Sociedad Cervantina – Imprenta del Quijote
A WiFi teenager in Don Quixote’s court
Uganda Sze Pui Kwan, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Conserving and Composing the Chinese Classics: James Legge’s Matrices and Chinese Characters
Nicole Sauerwein-Pittich and Ralph Pittich, Pro Lichtdruck gemeinnützige UG
Preserving collotype printing in Germany
Thomas Gravemaker, LetterpressAmsterdam
Transmitting by doing in a workshop context
If you have news to pass on about your current activities please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we will try to fit you into the programme. But remember, contributions will be strictly limited to 10 minutes each.
A selection of snacks will be available during the morning session.
11.30 – 12.30
Coach ride to Ghent
Leaving from the museum.
12.30 – 16.30
Lunch followed by a guided tour of the Museum.
The focal point of the visit to the Industriemuseum, formerly the MIAT, will be the new, considerably expanded printing gallery which will open several weeks before our visit. It will offer a unique occasion to discuss with our colleagues in Ghent the many issues involved in a makover of this scale.
The visit to the Industriemuseum closes the conference.
Participants can leave directly from Ghent, or return to Turnhout by coach with an optional drop off in Antwerp for anyone having a train or a plane to catch. (On Saturdays it is often easier to travel from Antwerp than from Turnhout.) Please indicate on the registration form if you wish to be dropped off in Antwerp.
Sunday 26 May 2019
A free optional visit to the Plantin-Moretus Museum in Antwerp is open to anyone staying on beyond the main conference.
For people staying on in Turnhout departure will be at 11.00 by coach. (It was not possible to organise the departure earlier because Sunday 26th May is election day in Belgium.)
Anyone staying in the region with their own transport or in Antwerp itself will of course also be welcome to join the visit.
N.b. It is important to indicate on the online registration form if you wish to take part in the visit.
Departure by coach to Antwerp
Guided tour of the Museum Plantin-Moretus (Unesco World Heritage). There is no limit on the number of visitors.
If you prefer to visit on your own, according to your own timetable, the Museum Plantin-Moretus (Unesco World Heritage) is offering free entry on the Sunday on presentation of your conference badge.
Free time for lunch and to visit Antwerp’s historic city centre.
Return to Turnhout
Participants will be able to return to Turnhout or, if they have brought their luggage with them on the coach, remain in Antwerp for travel connections.