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.

for the short 2005 video clip of
including blow-by-blow description.

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 resulting large arrears of rent, MUSEUM OPERATIONS WERE SUSPENDED in February 2018.


For years, our Director/Curator Michael has 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, 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, saleable items were divided into about 1050 lots, sometimes simply described as "the contents of 5 bays of shelving".

Nevertheless, thousands of "archival" documents and objects, and a useful range of other items, are still on site, as are lots of "infrastucture items" such as display cabinets and benches.

Fortunately, some "friendly forces" who bought machines at the auction did so to protect them: they have offered to return many 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 activities 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 seeing the archives move to another institution. The outcome will be determined by the value and timing of financial support.


MMOP is/was the only comprehensive museum of printing (MOP) in Australia. Other MOPs generally focus on the history of printing in their town, perhaps including the early history of typesetting and printing. Printing developments from 1950 onward are not well represented.
The President of the well-known Penrith Museum of Printing has written expressing the need for a "national" museum that the others could lean upon. Some other MOPs have expressed similar sentiments.
See our 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.
IF MMOP CAN PAY THE RENT, the Landlord is willing to renew the lease on this ideal location.

Please see the LINKS TO OTHER PAGES at the foot of this page.

Did you get here via the Home Page?
Just in case you did not, here is the relevant message from the Home Page

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

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 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 proposed Constitution clarifies the wide field of interests served, by defining the industries and trades related to printing. It is likely that many of the "non-core" industries would be represented only in a modest way, sufficient to alert visitors that there is a connection (e.g. to other media).

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 reasonable needs. Rather than ignore many such items, 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 remained "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 at the 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.

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 would be more likely, reducing the need to depend 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 used, and the "Trade Show Hall" established (see the plans below), presenting many more aspects of printing 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?

Firstly, we must be diligent in protecting everything that is useful and having it ready to move. This task includes removal of all scrap cardboard (as committed by Michael to the Landlord).

Secondly we should be finding alternative places now, in the range from 3000 sq.m down to an emergency bunker of 200 sq.m.. Your suggestions will be welcomed.

And thirdly, what if no-one provides any funds at all? Would a potential archiving organisation (a university or a library) 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 ask for help from people who did not know him. The two or three leaders 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 and summarises:

THE VITAL, urgent task is to get help from friends and supporters of the Museum, to pick up all our materials that have been scattered around the building, put them into numbered boxes, photograph them, and stack the boxes on pallets or similar, ready to move if necessary. We only have a couple of weeks to finish this or the Landlord may take it all to the tip - he told me so.

COVID-19 WORKING REQUIREMENTS: the relevant Government office has assured me that packing the goods preparing to move is a task for which I am permitted to issue a "Working Permit." So if you are available to help, LET ME KNOW ASAP and shifts will be negotiated. Covid-safe procedures will apply.

Working hours are to be decided between the volunteers and myself, but may well be a 10 a.m. start until late afternoon, on as many days as we can manage. When arrangements are finalised I will issue you with a government-authorised Working Permit. That will allow you to travel to and from your shift at the Museum, outside those present limits of time and distance.

We can have up to five persons present at any one time.

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 can provide some storage space or indeed a working space.

Financial Support

I need help in being introduced to someone who supports "heritage, art production and education" and who will 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. Of course I realise that being allowed to make my case is not a guarantee of success, but any such conversation, even if unsuccessful, will educate me about how to improve the presentation.

Fulfilling the MMOP Budget

Now I must ask you, friends of the Museum, to FIND PEOPLE who are interested in supporting "heritage, art production and education" and find a way to get me introduced.

You may not be aware, but someone among your acquaintances may know a person who would be willing and able 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. My family have been forced to surrender all their assets including their houses. They shared with me an expectation that industry, government and philanthropy would continue where I cannot. [Although I will continue to be available for a year or three to train and coordinate.]

I am not asking you to negotiate, but to tell someone who might help that it's important for the community, and that I 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.

Since the surrender of the family's assets, 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 the rent and wages until the Museum breaks even is far less than the amounts that my family and I have already contributed.

The alternative, of buying the building, of course, is 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 for that party if the Museum ceases to operate.


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 few years and taking the Museum to full-time operation, great services and substantial revenues.


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.

The most critical role for the team, a role 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. When a new member is recruited, the others will pass on those ancient crafts to them.

They will be encouraged to visit other related organisations to gain context and additional skills, and that may become a two-way street. They will be essential on providing training and support 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 some 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 archives cannot generate much cash-flow, if any. And archives of printing must have knowledgeable staff available. Accordingly I believe that archives would be of greatest benefit if they are a part of a large, relevant, organisation that can interpret and give context to the items.

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. 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 from around 1900 to the late 20th century.

That's about it. Please email me for any further information (or to offer your comments). 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 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, 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, these floor plans show how the 33,000 square-foot building (3000 sq.m) is planned to be set out.

These two files can be printed out up to A2 size.

See the full range of subject matters, programs and audiences, and links to some great referees and blogs.
MMOP Home Page