By Bob Wislocky
In the words of Walt Disney; “Never label a movie as educational” or kids won’t watch. Instead, “say it’s a true-life adventure”.
The Museum of Printing in Haverhill, MA is truly an adventure for the whole family. Kids and adults will experience the history of printing and graphics in real-time. Kids can experience the creation of hot metal printing from start to finish. They start by selecting brass dies called matrices from a case to assemble their names in a “composing stick”. A print craftsman will then insert the stick into the Ludlow display type caster. Hot metal is then squirted against the dies to create a line of type with the person’s name on it. That line of type can then be taken to another workstation where another craftsman working on the Vandercook proof press will print a “Certificate of Attendance” for that child. This experience truly proves to be an interesting “true-life adventure”.
Amazingly, many of today’s children have never seen a typewriter. At the MOP they can compose some “texts” on typewriter paper to give the message to their friends when they get home. Hitting the “send” button is certainly much faster.
The Museum isn’t a static place; it is alive with history where attendees can participate in working with technologies that were state of the art for over 500 years. Kids have fun sampling the older technologies as they compare their iPhones, Macs and PC’s to the way it was previously done.
All communication devices that we use today can have their roots traced back to Gutenberg; from his invention of moveable, metal hand type all the way to the Mac, iPhone, PC and beyond. Connecting the dots along the graphic communications timeline can truly serve as an “Aha Moment”.
So if you are visiting New England this Summer, Fall, Winter or Spring, be sure to stop by the Museum of Printing in Haverhill, MA for an experience you will not forget.
PS – Below are two photos. The first photo was taken at the MOP in 2007 of my granddaughter and me sitting down at the Mergenthaler Linotype line-casting machine. She was 4 months old. (My cousin Bob was standing behind us.)
The second photo was taken with my granddaughter in March 2019 at the same Linotype machine at the MOP. My granddaughter is now 12 years old.
By the way, she had a terrific time at the Museum with me.