Printing Museum, Movable Type, Metal 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.

for the short 2005 video clip of
including blow-by-blow description.
(filetype = MP4)
Before the Linotype (1890), each letter was a separate piece of metal, all assembled by hand. The Linotype makes a whole line in one piece: faster and easier to handle.


- The Rebuilding Page -


Due to the failure of MMOP to attract support from industry or government, and the resulting large arrears of rent, MUSEUM OPERATIONS WERE SUSPENDED in February 2018. Machinery and types were auctioned off by the Landlord in November 2019. FORTUNATELY, thousands of archival and other small but relevant items were left on-site, although in an awful mess.

Tidying them up will be one of our first tasks when we can gain access. Many useful items are stored elsewhere, and some of our former items can be returned if we succeed in re-starting.


For years, our Director/Curator Michael had been trying to attract support to cover fixed expenses for a start-up period that would expand the operations to full-time. A number of high-profile people made him confident that support would be offered.

But as many would know, despite those efforts, Michael could not make contact with potential funders. In the end, unable to pay the landlord, he had to look on helplessly from the outside as the machinery and most metallic objects were sold off, largely for scrap, and carted away, in November 2019. Over a hundred thousand valuable, heritage items were divided into around 1000 lots, sometimes simply described as "the contents of 5 bays of shelving". What a disaster!

Nevertheless, thousands of smaller objects and "archival" documents and a useful range of other items are still on site, as are lots of "infrastucture items", mostly belonging to the Landlord such as display cabinets, shelving and benches.

There are also a useful collection of printing items stored off-site in an annexe and in private storage.

Fortunately, some "friendly forces" who bought machines at the auction did so to protect them: they have offered to return some key items when MMOP needs them. A number of people in industry are likely to donate other items (some already have done so) and other needed items are available for purchase. Accordingly, re-establishment of core assets will be possible at reasonable cost.

There are many practical advantages in remaining at Geelong Road, but to be realistic we must have back-up plans to move either to another suitable venue (maybe a bit smaller), or into a temporary storage facility for protection, or ultimately facilitating the archives and equipment move to other institutions.

The outcome will be determined by the timing and value of financial support; or possibly by sale of the building before we can lease it again.

IF MMOP OR A SUPPORTER CAN PAY THE RENT, suitably guaranteed, the Landlord is willing to renew the lease on this ideal location. But it is "for sale" and if he sells it before we can achieve that, MMOP must move, and must be ready to move.

The Landlord will allow MMOP to ACCESS THE BUILDING FOR 12 MONTHS with a 20% rent reduction, to assist us to organise finance, make plans, appoint board members and promote the project. Subject of course to the building not being sold before that period commences. [The exact terms would be subject to final negotiations.]

Then, if start-up expenses can be covered, staff will be recruited and trained and programs restarted. Within a year or two the Museum will be looking good and working well: additional support would then be likely. Within some four or five years, seven-day operation is expected, and revenues will be significant and go on to make the Museum self-supporting.


MMOP is/was the only comprehensive museum of printing (MOP) in Australia. Other MOPs generally focus on the history of printing in their town, often including some history of early typesetting and printing. Printing developments, new technologies, from 1950 onward are not well represented. Business aspects, and the many "related industries" and suppliers, are not well represented.

The President of the well-known Penrith Museum of Printing has written expressing the need for MMOP to remain as the "national" museum that the others could lean upon. Some other MOPs have expressed similar sentiments.

See our "referee folder" of support letters.

The "Museum Support Program" at MMOP offers training and hard-to-get supplies to museums (and university departments).


Don't leave without seeing the MMOP FLOOR PLANS at the foot of this page.
Visualise the whole 3000 sq.m Museum, including the Trade-Show Area on the first floor
- it will be the main "general admission" attraction once we get a lift installed.

Please follow the CHAIN OF LINKS TO OTHER PAGES at the foot of this page.

Did you get here via the MMOP Home Page?

Just in case you did not, here is a brief look at the Home Page and a chance to go back to it.

The Home Page serves as an essential intro to this Rebuild Page, also has lots of interesting background. Highly recommended to start at the beginning!

"and apart from that . . ." there's lots of good stuff on the Home Page

[important item] "What Drives MMOP" ... our driving forces
Heritage :: Education :: Art Production :: Community Service

Over a hundred illustrations such as :

The thirteen linked thumbnails of Museum Activities, each with a para of explanation,

A selection of our illustrated leaflets,

The ABC Radio Feature about MMOP and Letterpress (well illustrated and explained).

Please visit the Home Page and explore these things.

How it could have been . . .
. . . and still could be if support arrives soon.

Even without funding for staff, a good range of programs were offered and supported. Many individuals, school and university classes, artists and "professional development" clients attended and were willing to pay the not-insubstantial fees. A number of participants came from interstate, a few from overseas. But without some regular staff, the programs could only operate in 'pilot mode'.

The collection, with great width and depth, placed MMOP in the class of a "significant industrial museum". The Museum's Constitution clarifies that MMOP covers not just the old machinery but includes "the crafts, the workplace environments and the business" of printing and related industries. This annotated version includes background information.

Some thoughtful people have expressed concern over the large repetitive groups of certain classes of exhibit. It is a matter of history that certain items became available, in excess of our reasonable needs. Rather than leaving many such items to an unknown fate, they were accepted or purchased with a view to selecting the most appropriate to keep.

At that time, very limited effort could be directed at curating the thousands of items not immediately required for display and operation. This was not a case of "collect and forget". Rather, it was a difficult challenge to develop the priority areas of the Museum. The intended eventual curation of the items that were still "as acquired" would result in numerous presses (etc) being fully described and conserved, selections made, and the surplus offered to other institutions or used for spare parts.

On the other hand, a strong feature of MMOP is its policy to show not just an interesting item (like a machine or an 1880s workstand) but to show them at an industrial scale where there would be a realistic number of such items working side-by-side. This illustrates the working environment, contributes to a unique experience, and has led to film-makers' interest in the Museum's industrial atmosphere. [see below for film-making.]

With the needed funding, operations would have scaled up to full-time, and sustained the Museum into the future. Expected revenues would also cover future "below cost" programs such as research and community outreach and the "Grade Six Program".

The still-needed start-up funding would ideally cover rent, wages for a team of full-time staff, and other fixed expenses for up to five years (reducing each year). Funding could be philanthropic gifts, sponsorships or some kind of loan (e.g. a debenture issue), or a blend of those.

An attractive alternative would be a benefactor buying the building and renting it to MMOP at charitable rates for as long as MMOP is performing its purposes. Or advancing the funds for MMOP to buy the building with an appropriate proviso in the event that MMOP ceases to provide its services.

Within two or three years after re-starting, with MMOP working well and looking good but not yet breaking even, further grants and sponsorships could well be received, reducing the dependence on borrowing.

During that start-up period, programs will be built up and properly marketed, the No.1 Goods Hoist converted to a passenger lift (so the first floor can be opened to the public) and the "Trade Show Hall" established (see the plans below), presenting many more aspects of printing, publishing, etc., to the public in an interesting manner.

At the same time, volunteers, supported by the team, will be cataloguing the collection to improve the displays and in preparation for research; this will also to enable decisions about which items should be offered to other institutions.

By the end of that period of up to five years, operating seven days a week, revenues will become sufficient to cover expenses and service any borrowings. The MMOP Budget System has modelled various scenarios, and in all likely outcomes there will be a positive cashflow by the five-year mark.

But What if the Building is sold before this can come about?

We should be identifying other affordable venues now, in the range from 3000 sq.m down to an emergency bunker of 600 sq.m.. Your suggestions will be welcomed.

And (an awkward possibility), what if no-one provides any funds at all? Would a potential archiving organisation (a university or a library), or a benefactor, cover transport and temporary storage? They might, but some friend of the Museum might have to pave the way for those discussions. Please keep in touch if you have an idea.

The plan, for some years, was to get introduced to those who are known to support art, heritage and education. Michael admits he was a bit shy to talk about his own contributions, and seemed to have no way to ask for help from people who did not know him.

Michael Isaachsen continues and summarises:

So What Happens Next?

This depends on whether we can obtain sufficient financial support to remain at Geelong Road, or only enough to cover a smaller place plus the cost of moving, or only enough for a storage company where we may or may not have enough space to squeeze everything in, or nothing.

In case we have to leave Geelong Road, and we cannot pay for a reasonable place to start again, I would like help to find a business person who could be ready to provide at least a modest space, and help with transport.

Fulfilling the MMOP Budget

Now I must ask you, friends of the Museum, to find PHILANTHROPIC PEOPLE (or broad-minded investors) who are interested in supporting "heritage, education, art production and community service" and find a way to approach them.

If you have someone in mind that you could approach, I could offer you some further information that help you to open a conversation about the Museum, its potential and its history, especially its financial history.

Please ask them to ALLOW ME TO MAKE THE CASE for Australia to have a comprehensive Museum of Printing. This is now a priority. And an urgent one it is.

I realise that being allowed to make my case to such a person is not a guarantee of success. But any such conversation, even if unsuccessful, will educate me about how to improve my presentation. But I feel that I cannot introduce myself.

You may not be aware, but someone among your acquaintances, with "a bit of clout", may know a person or company who would be willing and able to help (or at least discuss it), if only they knew about MMOP, its history, its challenges and its potential. Some philanthropists are interested in "heritage, art-production and education".

It's not only "print people" who value the preservation of all this knowledge and artefacts. Printing has in some way benefited every branch of knowledge and endeavour, and people in many walks of life appreciate that.

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. My family have surrendered all their assets including their houses. They shared with me an expectation that industry, government and philanthropy would continue, now that I cannot.

I am not asking you to negotiate, but to inform someone who might help, perhaps indirectly, that such a museum is of value to the community, and that you believe that I need a chance to show them how it will become self-supporting and able to pay its way. Please break the ice, introduce me to someone I would not otherwise get to talk to. It could be a sponsor, donor or lending organisation, a government person, educator or just one of those good-timers who know lots of people.

Since the surrender of the family's assets, and the sale of the machinery, the money needed for re-starting the Museum is a lot less, but still out of reach for most individuals. I can just say here that the amounts needed to cover expenses until the break-even is far less than the amounts that my family and I have already contributed.

The alternative, of buying the building, is of course far preferable for the Museum's long-term prospects, because leasing is unlikely to be permanent. The cost of purchase goes well outside those figures. If someone buys it and rents to the Museum, or provides funds for the Museum to buy it, either way, there would be protection in the contract for that party if the Museum ceases to operate.


It is relevant, here, to mention the "Corporate" plans. An experienced Not-For-Profit law firm will set up the two planned bodies to manage the Museum and its assets. An initial tranche of funds will be requested, to cover these expenses.

The current plan (subject to legal advice) is that 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 most of whom 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 few years and taking the Museum to reliable full-time operation, with reliable, meaningful services and substantial revenues.


I do not intend to continue to manage the Museum for much longer. I hope to have a good team in place and a great "membership organisation" and board to manage the venture within a reasonable time, and hand the task over to them.

The budget assumes that a salaried Director will be required at that time.


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, trained and encouraged by the team, they 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.

The most critical role for the team, a role which might not work so well with a smaller team, is to comprise an ongoing human-based store of knowledge about the main focus of the Museum. That is, the crafts and business of printing and related industries, including the Ancient Crafts of typefounding, typesetting, printing by hand, and bookbinding. When a new member is recruited, the others will pass on those ancient crafts to them at a measured pace.

They will be encouraged and assisted to visit other related organisations to gain context and additional skills, and that may become a two-way street.

The Team will also host and offer training to volunteers from other museums which may have lost their older, experienced, people.


Many parts of the "wider" industry (e.g. publishing, packaging, advertising, signage, labelling, suppliers of goods and services) have their own specialised organisations to support their operations. In time, all of these will be invited to take part in MMOP activities, providing their particular understandings to the wider industry, and the general public.


I have been advised by some people who love those ancient crafts, 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, librarians and historians, advise me that such material is of value for research. I understand that archives cannot generate much cash-flow, if any, but they fulfil an important role.

Archives of trades are of greater value to a researcher if knowledgeable staff are on hand to provide background and interpretation. Accordingly I believe that archives would be of greatest benefit if they remain within a substantial, relevant organisation that can give context to the items. That will fulfill the intention of the providers of the archives.

In a way, our '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.

When the foundry 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 from around 1900 to the late 20th century.

But at likely volumes the foundry might not survive as an independent operation.

That's about it. Please email me for any further information to offer your comments or ask questions. Please include your phone number and we can have a chat.


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 mostly with a detailed explanation.

CLICK HERE to visit the SHOWROOM GROUP OF PAGES including the original SHOWROOM LEAFLET.

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

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, the floor plan shows how the 33,000 square-foot building (3000 sq.m) can cater for several activities for groups or individuals at a time, in addition to the larger public spaces.

The file can be printed out up to A2 size.

See the present and proposed range of subject matters, programs and audiences.

Link from there to the REFEREES PAGE with letters and statements from senior academics and people in Museums and authorities.

Link from there to the REFEREE LINKS PAGE including video and blogs from our visitors, and some of our own video and images.
MMOP Home Page

Updated 20220221