Printing Museum, Movable Type, Wood Type, Linotype, Typography, Printmaking, Letterpress, Planning, Development, Finance.
Melbourne Museum of Printing
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Australia's working and teaching museum of typography and printing located at Footscray, Victoria. Specialising in retention of traditional printing, both the equipment and the knowledge.

CLICK HERE for the short 2005 video clip of THE LINOTYPE MACHINE IN ACTION
including a meaningful description.

Due to the failure of MMOP to attract support from industry or government, and resulting large arrears of rent, MUSEUM OPERATIONS ARE SUSPENDED.



Without funding for staff, only limited programs were possible. Many individuals and school groups attended and were willing to pay the not-insubstantial fees, but it was really only operating in 'pilot mode'. When scaled up, those fees would sustain the Museum into the future, and cover the costs of certain future programs that cannot generate their own adequate cashflow, such as research and outreach.

The needed start-up funding would cover rent, wages for a core of full-time staff, and other fixed expenses for up to five years. Of course, during those years, when MMOP is working well and looking not too bad, and even if not yet breaking even, further grants and sponsorships would be more likely.

During that time, programs will be built up and properly marketed, and the collection catalogued in preparation for research and also to enable decisions about the future of less important items.

By the end of that period, operating seven days a week, revenues will become sufficient to cover expenses and service any borrowings.

That was the plan, for some years, but Michael admits he was a bit shy to talk about his own contributions and ask for help from people who did not know him. What few he did speak to, from industry or philanthropy, did not make any positive response. And government bodies always had some reason not to consider MMOP. And apparently unconcerned whether it disappeared or not.

Michael Isaachsen continues:

It would have been better if I had engaged the help of others to make contact with potential funding sources. That's what needs to happen now. (Unless you, dear reader, are a funding source!)

Now I must ask you, friends of the Museum, to do your best to find sponsorship, grants and or loan funding (or a 'blend'). You may not be aware, but someone among your acquaintances may know a person who would like to help if only they knew about MMOP, its history and its challenges and its potential. It's not only "print people" who value the preservation of knowledge and artefacts. Printing has in some way benefited every branch of knowledge and endeavour.

There may even be some people who would be moved to support, when they learn of my own efforts and commitment over forty years since 1977. My family and I have reached the end of our own finance - we have no more to give and cannot borrow any more, ourselves. Only the MMOP Foundation (see below) could borrow.

I am not asking you to negotiate, but tell someone who might help that it's important for the community, and that I can show them how it will become self-supporting and able to pay its way. Just break the ice, introduce me to someone I would not otherwise get to talk to. It could be a sponsor, donor or lending organisation.

For the ideal result, the funds I am seeking will cover fixed expenses (mainly wages and rent) over a start-up period as well as rent from around 2016. The start-up period (to achieve break-even) could be three to five years.

As a lesser outcome, if sponsorship or a grant can at least cover the rental (from 2016 and going forward), then the collection is out of danger. Beyond the rental, even modest funding will allow MMOP to begin creating value and cash-flow. A potential sponsor would be more likely to cover ongoing costs if a kindly grant could cover the overdue.


It is relevant, here, to mention the "Corporate" plans. An initial tranche of funds will be requested, to cover legal advice. An experienced NFP firm will set up the two planned bodies to manage the Museum and its assets. The Museum will become an incorporated association, and the MMOP Foundation Inc will be set up to own the heritage assets and manage all donations and loan funds. Both will qualify for "DGR Status", so permitting tax deductions by donors.

The Foundation will consist of a small team of legal, accounting and professional people who are not involved in MMOP management. The two bodies' constitutions will be linked so the Foundation can oversight the management of the Museum and its Committee. A key role will be to ensure that any loan obligations are fully complied with.

It is my belief that a core team of up to six staff will give the ideal outcome, recruited over the first two years and taking the Museum to full-time operation, great services and substantial revenues.


The Age, in its 31 March story mentions: "Isaachsen is making an 11th-hour appeal for a loan of several million dollars over five years". I note that this is not the only option, as mentioned above.

If the MMOP Foundation could own the building, but need to borrow for start-up expenses, around two million (expended over three to five years) would cover full-time staff and other fixed expenses until break-even.

A lesser loan could be viable but delay the break-even. If the start-up funds were in the form of sponsorship or a grant, a lesser amount would be satisfactory.

If MMOP must continue to pay rent, and needs to borrow, then up to three million would be preferable to ensure the ability to get up to profitable levels and commence repayments in reasonable time. This is all covered in the MMOP business plans and budget.


The team wages will be the largest item within fixed expenditure, and the team's efforts will be responsible for most of the revenue, as they will deliver the core programs and the marketing efforts. Volunteers will continue to play a part, and the team's duties include supporting the volunteers.

The volunteers, trained and encouraged by the team, will play the major role in cataloguing and curatorial work on the thousands of books, artefacts, typefaces, spare parts and machinery. It is also likely that among the volunteers will be some who can impart relevant knowledge to the Team - a two-way street.

The most critical role for the team, one which might not work so well with a smaller team, is to form an ongoing human-based store of knowledge about the main focus of the Museum. That is, the craft and business of printing and related industries, including the Ancient Crafts of typefounding, typesetting, printing by hand, and bookbinding. They will of course offer training to the MMOP volunteers, and they will host volunteers from other museums who no longer have people with relevant experience.


I have been advised by many people who visit casually that a lot of our 'archival material' is of little value and it should not take up floor space. But others, including members of professional bodies, advise me that such material is of value for research. I know that it cannot generate much cash-flow, if any. And it must have knowledgeable staff available. Accordingly I believe that it could not survive and be accessible except as part of a large, relevant, organisation.

In a way, the 'type foundry' is like that. Using the Monotype system, it makes and supplies founts of movable type for universities, museums (including MMOP) and small printeries, and it can also compose type from a keyboard, e.g. for a book. At likely volumes the foundry would not survive as an independent operation. And when it is again operational, it will provide a captivating experience for many visitors. The Monotype was the major system of typesetting for publishers of quality books and journals.

That's about it. Please email me for any further information (in either direction!)



The above information, although a free-standing item, was prompted by The Age Newspaper's excellent feature by Joseph Hinchliffe concerning the future of this Museum. Joe researched and interviewed for over a month to achieve this result.

The printed double-spread feature was published in The Age on Saturday 31 March 2018, and an online version (dated 27th) was seen on 30th.

The feature title is :"The Collector and his Labyrinth", on pages 28 & 29. There are three photos including a great shot by Jason South of the MMOP Linotype Room with some pensive old guy sitting alone in its midst.

The "online" story may be found by searching for "The Age museum" - the title is "One-man stand: Is Melbourne's Museum of Printing too big to be saved?"

Or copy this link:

The text seems identical, and there are eight extra pictures and a video clip. Four of the pictures are from the amazing 2009 fund-raising event, organised by a dedicated committee.

A few people have contributed a comment on the on-line page - we hope for more.

The clip shows the Linotype in action. The Age describes the Linotype as a Linotype printer. Of course we all know that a Linotype is not a printer or a press: it is a typesetter (or Line Caster). Don't we? That same clip is linked from the top of this page, to its own page, which includes a description of what the Linotype typesetter is doing.




Two Printing Industry trade publications (on-line) have featured MMOP in recent weeks, and have attracted comments. Some comments were supportive and some dismissive.

Articles in were written by printing guru James Cryer.

Articles in were written by hard-working journalist Sarah Simpkins.

Appreciating that the commenters were not in possession of all the facts, Michael has made lengthy statements in reply, attracting more comments. Where will it end?

The Showroom is the entrance hall of MMOP. This room displays examples of various kinds of machines and other items found throughout the Museum.

The SHOWROOM WEB-PAGE GROUP also serves as a showroom to other parts of the Museum.

THERE ARE MANY PICTURES and every picture has an explanation.

CLICK HERE to see the SHOWROOM GROUP OF PAGES including the original SHOWROOM LEAFLET (a download is available).

The Showroom leaflet was first issued in August 2016 for distribution at a significant meeting in Korea.

The inaugural convocation of the International Association of Printing Museums (IAPM) was held in the city of Cheongju, home of the Early Printing Museum.

Delegates attended representing many museums of printing and printing heritage organisations. They came from Europe, the Americas, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Two delegates attended from MMOP.


This Pastiche shows what's in the MMOP Showroom. Prints an A2 Poster

INTERESTING: The film and TV industry has noticed MMOP and used the Museum as a filming location several times and at other times picked up a truckload of machines and other things to use on their set elsewhere. Twice in recent times the MMOP "Newspaper Linotype Composing Room" has been used for TV. Here's one of the episodes taking place.


To visualise the Melbourne Museum of Printing, this floor plan shows how the 33,000 square-foot building (3100 sq.m) is set out.

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