An historic printing works in Leipzig accommodates a museum which holds collections of international significance and offers to visitors opportunities for gaining an understanding of the technologies that enabled the communication of knowledge of many kinds for 500 years before the advent of the computer in the late twentieth century. The oldest parts of the building date from 1876 but additional wings were added at the sides and the rear up to 1920, some of them steel-framed to accommodate the weight of heavy presses. The frontage was re-designed in the Art Deco style in 1922-23 by the architect Edgar Röhring. From 1921 the building was occupied by Dr Karl Meyer GmbH, who employed about 350 people in the 1930s. Under the DDR it was owned by a nationalised concern which ceased operation in 1991, and the museum was established in 1994.
For historians of printing the importance of the museum lies in its large collection of type in many alphabets, not just from Europe but from all over the world. The oldest fonts in the collection were cast in Nuremberg in the mid-sixteenth century. One section of the museum shows how printers met the challenge of reproducing musical scores. It concentrates particularly on the work in Leipzig of Johann Gottlieb Immanuel Brietkopf (1719-94). There are displays of the tools used in bookbinding and demonstrations of how they were used. The museum has also acquired the workshop of Rudolf Reiss of Nuremberg, supposedly Germany’s last wood engraver.
>The collection of historic printing presses includes a Paragon press of 1832, Columbia of 1842 and an original Heidelberger Tiegel of 1926. Displays illustrated the development of hand-worked and machine presses through the centuries, and there are plentiful opportunities for visitors to set up their own work and print it on the museum’s demonstration presses.