The Museum of Typography, Chania, Crete

This week we have a guest article from one of our library volunteers, Heather Jardine. Heather recently visited the Museum of Typography in Crete. Here are a few words about the experience. 

We were lucky enough to be on holiday in Crete earlier this month and therefore took the opportunity to visit the Museum of Typography. Opening hours are restricted during the winter months but pre-booked appointments can be made; Maria, to whom no thanks can be enough, opened the museum especially for us and gave us an excellent personal guided tour.

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The museum is housed in a modern unit on a light industrial estate; it may not have the architectural charm of the St Bride Foundation building, but it has a great deal more light and space. There is therefore room enough to keep and display a great deal of printing machinery of all kinds, some of it enormous. The museum is supported by the local newspaper Haniotika Nea, and initially shared the same premises. This close link with industry means not only that the museum is supported financially but also that it feels like a collection of working tools.

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All of the exhibits are clearly labelled and many are accompanied by photographs or video of the machinery in use; almost all are presented free-standing, so that you can wander round and look at them from all angles. It is very hands-on; there is very little that you cannot touch and practical demonstration is encouraged. Visitors print (and perforate) their own tickets, for example.

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There is a room dedicated to presentations and functions and the museum does a lot of work with local schools, as well as book launches and the like. The museum is 10 years old this summer and is planning a programme of events to celebrate its birthday, as well as a further extension with the opening of a new room.

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Two things I admit to my undying shame, the first being, that I can remember the Telex machine in real life and not just as a piece of history; and secondly, that in my excitement at playing with all the equipment, I completely forgot to ask to see the library… Ah well, there is always next time.

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The printed guide to the collections, in English and well-illustrated, will be added to St Bride library stock in due course. The museum also has an excellent website with many pictures and video, and more information than I am qualified to give. I recommend it to you; but if you can, go to the museum itself and I am sure you will be inspired and enthused.

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