The National Print Museum’s mission is to promote a greater understanding of the historical significance and the contemporary relevance of printing in Ireland by exploring its heritage, craft and technology.
It is a unique museum – the only one of its kind in Ireland. The collection is made up largely of letterpress printing equipment. Letterpress is a form of relief printing, which was invented by Johannes Gutenberg in 1439. The invention is one of the greatest known to mankind. It was the chief manner of printing which prevailed for over 500 years before becoming obsolete, in the commercial sense, in the mid-twentieth century.
The main collection is not behind glass or rope, but is instead an example of a working collection. The collection consists of fully-operational letterpress printing equipment, displayed and organised like a traditional 1960s print-shop. The panel of retired printers and compositors, who founded the Museum continue to play an integral role in preserving the collection and craft. A major challenge is preserving their knowledge and skills, and passing these on to future generations.
As set out in the Museum’s Strategic Plan 2018-2021, one of the key strategic aims is the preservation of the craft of letterpress printing. The panel of retired printers and compositors range in age from 70 to 85 and the need to develop a plan to preserve their skills is vital.
In 2018, the Museum was successful in securing funding from Creative Ireland – National Creativity Fund, Aviva Stadium Community Fund and the Wild Apple Press for a hugely significant project entitled “Making our Impression” Skills Transfer Programme.
The project facilitates the transfer of skills from one generation to another, who then in turn will pass these newly acquired skills on to the next generation through a specifically designed education programme. This will allow every person in Ireland the opportunity to realise their creative potential through the medium of print.
“Making our impression” is an innovative project that aims to include the widest audience possible in the preservation of the nation’s printing heritage. The Museum’s panel of retired printers and compositors will share their specialist knowledge and skills with an identified group of younger generation designers and printers, who in turn will commit to passing on the craft.
After an overwhelming response to the call for participants, the Museum’s panel of retired printers and compositors, in conjunction with bookbinder, Tommy Duffy, have now completed the initial stages of sharing their specialist knowledge and skills with an identified group of 8 younger generation letterpress enthusiasts which includes, designers, printers and engineers.
The project’s Training Manager, letterpress printer Mary Plunkett, is currently engaging the participants in a number of print practice sessions and all have had the opportunity to demonstrate and share their new skills at recent Museum events including Cruinniú na nOg in June this year. This will continue with the new volunteers contributing to the Museum’s educational public programming. To find out more about the “Making our Impression” Skills Transfer Programme contact firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on National Creativity Fund, see https://www.creativeireland.gov.ie/en