New printing museums. After Malesherbes (France), Montepulciano (Italy)

It must be a record – two new printing museums inaugurated in the space of one week! Two days after the official opening of the Atelier-Musée Imprimerie (AMI) at Malesherbes in France, the Museo del Libro e Officina della Stampa was inaugurated at Montepulciano in Italy.

The Museo del Libro e Officina della Stampa is the result of a collaboration between the municipalities of Montepulciano and Torrita di Siena which have been developing collaborative projects for some time with a view to giving greater to visibility to local cultural resources.

The permanent exhibition of the new museum, which occupies 200 m2 in the former convent of Sant’Agostino, Piazza Pasquino in Montepulciano, displays working printing presses as well as books, prints, posters and other printed ephemera from the past. Machines and other items were donated by a specialist in printing technology, Antonio Seccia, orignally from Turin and now living in nearby Città della Pieve.

The printing machines include a reconstitution of a printing press of Gutenberg’s time, an 18th-century wooden hand press, a rolling press for copperplate printing and a 19th-century Brisset lithographic press. They are complemented by assorted types and type cases and tools and ancillary equipment for printing and engraving. Part of this equipment is intended for display. Another part will be used for educational workshops and for production in collaboration with invited artists.

Representatives of the various organisations involved in the creation of the Museo were present at the inauguration: the municipalties of Montepulciano and Torrita di Siena; Eugenio Giani, president of the Tuscany Regional council which sponsors the project; Pro Loco (Montepulciano), the Tuscany Bibliographical Society and the Poliziana Historical Society. Invited speakers included Massimo Fanfani of the University of Florence, Accademia della Crusca; Daniele Olschki of the celebrated publishing house of the same name; Silvio Antiga, president of the Tipoteca Italiana Foundation (Cornuda) and member of the AEPM; Antonio Seccia, and Andrea De Pasquale, director of the National Central Library of Rome (who is also well-known to AEPM members).

The participation of the municipalities provides the Museo del Libro e Officina della Stampa with a close link to the local museum and art gallery (Museo Civico Pinacoteca Crociani) as well as to the municipal library and archives. Likewise the active participation of the Tuscany Bibliographical Society opens the Museo to a extensive newtork of collectors and book lovers. And thanks to the support of the municipalities of Montepulciano and Torrita di Siena the Museo will have privileged access to a collection of 12,000 volumes, of which almost 3,000 were printed in the sixteenth century – a collection which is regularly sollicited for loans by the organisers of exhibitions in Italy and abroad.