The Printing Museum in Houston: A Lesser-Known Treasure! - WanderWisdom - Travel
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The Printing Museum in Houston: A Lesser-Known Treasure!

I live in Houston, and I have worked as a nurse. My interests include art, traveling, reading, gardening, cooking, and our wonderful pets.

Exterior of The Printing Museum with crape myrtle in bloom.

Exterior of The Printing Museum with crape myrtle in bloom.

Located just outside of the Houston Museum District is The Printing Museum. It houses an amazing array of items, some of which represent historic treasures of past centuries related to man's early forms of conveying messages in written or visual form. In many cases, one would have to travel to other parts of the world to see similar items on display because of their rarity.

The museum is set up with rooms or galleries featuring different subjects. It is fascinating to discover what unfolds from one space to another. There are wonderful permanent and temporary exhibitions. From papermaking to bookbinding and letterpress to lithography, this place has it all. The journey throughout this facility starts and ends in their gift shop, where you can print your own t-shirt to take away as a souvenir if you wish.

This is one of only a handful of printing museums in the USA. You would have to travel to Massachusetts, California, or Utah to see anything similar to this, so we are fortunate to have this gem of a museum located here. After being closed for 20 months due to a fire, The Printing Museum once again opened its doors to visitors on January 25, 2018.

Ancient Artifacts or Facsimiles at the Museum

A portion of the information displayed to the side of the Hyakumanto Dharani Scroll and Pagoda shown above reads as follows:

Literally meaning "Dharani in One Million Pagoda", Hyakumanto Dharani is one of the oldest relief printing in the world. Empress Shotoku (718-770) of eighth-century Japan commissioned one million copies of Buddhist text known as dharanis, which were then placed into pagodas made of hinoki wood and dedicated to major temples in her realm. The museum's display is one of the 1,700 surviving copies, most of which exist in the Horyuji, Japan.

You can learn more about the dharanis as well as view and see information about things such as the following in the first gallery past the gift shop:

  • Ancient papyrus fragments dating back to 300-350 B.C.E
  • Mesopotamian Cylinder Seals from 3000-1000 B.C.E
  • Illuminated Manuscripts from the 13th to 16th centuries
  • Asian wood type and printing from the 8th and 9th centuries C.E.
  • Codex Zouche-Nuttall (facsimile) 1200-1521 C.E.
  • Leaf from the Qur'an from 1631 C.E., Turkey
  • Read about the importance of the Rosetta Stone and other things.

George and Barbara Bush Americana Gallery

The importance of literacy to a society cannot be overstated. There are instances throughout history where despots sought to keep people in the dark by burning books and curtailing people's access to the written word. The process of producing literature has gone from storytelling to the painstaking hand-lettering and illustration of books by monks and others to machines, which helped to speed up the process of printing. Each and every invention along the way has helped to increase literacy.

Taking center stage in this Americana Gallery is a working 150-year-old Columbian iron hand press. It is a beauty!

Lining the walls are numerous framed newspapers and publications that offer viewers interesting information regarding historic events of the past. The photo of the first newspaper shown below has a portion of this information written to the side of it:

Frank Leslie (born Henry Carter in England) came to New York as an illustrator and engraver in 1848 and quickly established his own magazine. In 1855, Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper which ran until 1922, became the first successful pictorial weekly in America. Leslie's breakthrough was devising a method of speeding the work of preparing illustrations for printing by dividing the image into as many as thirty-two separate sections for individual wood engravers. Significant American illustrators, such as Thomas Nast (1840-1902) began their careers at Frank Leslie's paper, learning the business of illustration and techniques of wood engraving.

See many examples of printed materials on display in this gallery including, among others, The Pennsylvania Gazette published by Benjamin Franklin in 1765.

The only thing that is more expensive than education is ignorance.”

— Benjamin Franklin

Renaissance Gallery

It is in this gallery that visitors get to see a working replica of Gutenberg's press. A page from the Bible is printed on this press for tour groups and can be taken from the museum as a souvenir. On display is a facsimile of the Gutenberg Bible.

Printed pages from various Bibles can also be viewed along with some fabulous 15th- and 16th-century engravings, among other things.

Hearst Newspaper Gallery

There is an interesting collection of early newspaper equipment in this gallery. All type was set by hand prior to the 1880s. This was very time-consuming!

Ottmar Mergenthaler invented the linotype machine in 1886. The effect of this was to speed up the production of the printed word which greatly affected literacy rates. Take some time to learn about the features of these items on display when taking a tour.

See This Linotype Machine in Action at The Printing Museum

20th Century Gallery

In this gallery is a collection of all kinds of business machines, such as typewriters, photocopiers, more printing machines, and an early Macintosh computer.

Other Features Within the MPH

  • There is the Texas History Gallery, which honors the first printer in Texas—Samuel Bangs. The newspaper he started in Galveston in 1838 is still in operation there today.
  • There is a Papermaking Studio where classes have been held.
  • A Bookbinder Studio showcases many items of interest.
  • The Printing Museum Theater offers different films of interest to people of all ages.
  • Rooms, hallways, and glassed-in cases showcasing permanent as well as temporary exhibitions.

Admission Prices, Address, and Hours

The general admission price is only $5. Admission prices are very reasonable for tours. Tours last one hour and are limited to 20 people at one time.

  • Museum members - $5
  • Ages 6 or under - Free
  • Ages 7 to12 - $8
  • Ages 13+ - $10
  • 55+ - $8
  • Active Military and Veterans - $8
  • College Students with ID - $8

The address of The Printing Museum is 1324 W. Clay Street, Houston, Texas 77019. There is free parking in the museum parking lot and nearby streets.

This wheelchair accessible museum is currently open Friday–Saturday from 10 A.M to 4 P.M. Guided tours are at 11 A.M. and 2 P.M. Other days are available by appointment for groups of ten or more. The museum is closed on Sundays and Mondays. Call this number for appointments: 713-522-4652, ext. 201 or email: info@printingmuseum.org

Classes, workshops and Girl and Boy Scout Merit Badge Days will be starting in the Fall of 2018. Stay tuned.

Mural on the Side of The Printing Museum

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2018 Peggy Woods

Comments

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 03, 2020:

Hi Rochelle,

The general admission price is only $5. Tour prices are slightly more and well worth taking. Thanks for your interest.

Rochelle Frank from California Gold Country on January 02, 2020:

What is the regular admission? I see the list of discounted admissions.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 02, 2020:

Hi Donna,

So happy to know that you enjoyed this virtual visit to The Printing Museum here in Houston. They do have a sizable collection of Bibles, among other things.

Donna Rayne from Greenwood, In on January 02, 2020:

Thank you so much for taking me on a fabulous journey. I loved looking at all the different Bibles amongst other things. Again, a wonderful journey!

All my best,

Donna Rayne

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 20, 2019:

Hi Charles,

Thanks for the compliment on my writing. The Printing Museum in Houston is a treasure, and I am pleased to be able to share that information with others.

Charles Criner on November 20, 2019:

You're so good Peggy. What more can I say.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 18, 2019:

Hello Abitha,

As you mentioned, the role of literacy cannot be understated. We are fortunate to have The Printing Museum here in Houston. So happy to know that you enjoyed the photos and learning about it.

Abitha Deepak on September 18, 2019:

Peggy,

A fascinating read! The visuals are stunning and the role of printing for literacy cannot be understated!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 19, 2019:

Hi Roberta,

I am pleased that you would put this on your list of places to see if you come to Houston. There is so much more to this museum than what is shown here. Thanks for your comment.

RTalloni on May 19, 2019:

Thanks very much for this interesting look at the PMH. This enticing post surely does make one want to plan a trip. More of the history you mention would be fascinating and your photos are a real treat.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 01, 2019:

Hello glassvisage,

In that case, you would truly enjoy visiting the Printing Museum in Houston.

glassvisage from Northern California on March 01, 2019:

So fascinating! I have always enjoyed learning about the Gutenberg press and Bible.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 27, 2019:

Hi Aurelio,

I hope you get to visit The Printing Museum someday. It has an amazing collection of artifacts and items of interest. Happy that I was able to bring it to your attention.

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on January 26, 2019:

I've never been to a printing museum that had such ancient artifacts. Going to put this on my visit list if I ever get to Houston.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 06, 2019:

Hi Sherry,

The printing industry has certainly changed over the years. From what you wrote I know that you would enjoy visiting our Houston Printing Museum.

Sherry Hewins from Sierra Foothills, CA on January 06, 2019:

I think I would enjoy visiting this museum, as I have spent much of my working life in the print industry. These times of digital information have had a huge impact on that industry. I watched it fade away.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 06, 2019:

Hi Devika,

Thanks for letting me know that you enjoyed learning about The Printing Museum in Houston. It is an amazing place!

Devika Primic on January 06, 2019:

You shared with great interest and I found this informative and well presented.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 30, 2018:

Hi Dale,

This makes me happy to know that you enjoyed learning about our Printing Museum and that you think that your wife will also like learning about it. It is really a gem! Happy new year to you both.

Dale Anderson from The High Seas on December 30, 2018:

This was really, really cool! I'm going to share it with my wife and I know that she will love it too.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 26, 2018:

Hi Nell Rose,

It was certainly a hands-on enterprise in the days of those early printing machines. Glad you liked this and learning about the history displayed in the Printing Museum of Houston.

Nell Rose from England on November 26, 2018:

There must have been something so special about working these machines and others back in the day. these days everything is so quick, plastic and screens. that was fascinating back then, thanks Peggy for this, I love my history!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 30, 2018:

Hi Natalie,

Thanks for the compliment. Yes, I am a bit of a photography buff. I fell in love with taking photos when I received my first Brownie box camera as a child of around 10. Getting photos developed back then cost a bit of money. Now with digital cameras, I can go crazy and take lots of images.

Natalie Frank from Chicago, IL on August 29, 2018:

Your articles are like photo journals. I love how you provide visual pictures of everything you describe. It's very different from the way other articles are. Are a photography buff as well as a writer?

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 26, 2018:

Hello Nithya,

I hope that you get the chance to visit it someday in the future. It is amazing.

Hi Robert,

I do not know if there is a similar museum in the U.K. There are a few in the U.S. but every one of them is different.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on August 25, 2018:

The Printing Museum is amazing. Enjoyed reading and the photos are great, I sure hope to visit there someday. Thank you for the wonderful tour with so much information.

Robert Sacchi on August 25, 2018:

Is there a comparable museum in the UK?

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 25, 2018:

Hello Louise,

I am sure you would enjoy visiting the Printing Museum. Too bad you live so far away. If you ever travel to Houston, put it on your wish list of things to see.

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on August 25, 2018:

That museum looks really interesting. I'd love to visit there.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 19, 2018:

Hi Adrienne Janet Farricelli,

I hope that you will get a chance to visit the museum if time allows. Call ahead of time to make sure that they are open prior to making a trip from the airport for a visit. It would be a trip from either of our major airports to the Printing Museum.

Adrienne Farricelli on August 19, 2018:

This is an interesting treasure. I am sure the artifacts are very interesting to see in person. Thank you for providing info on this museum. I will be traveling to Houston in the next few weeks and now know where to go should my flght be delayed.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 07, 2018:

Hi Robert,

We have a wide array of wonderful and informative museums in Houston which is not too surprising given our size. We are currently the 4th largest city in the nation but will soon take over that number three spot at our current rate of expansion.

Robert Sacchi on August 06, 2018:

This is a surprise that there is such a museum in Houston. It seems Houston is putting a lot of resources into museums.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 06, 2018:

Hi Ann,

I am so pleased that you found our Printing Museum in Houston so interesting. If you did not live so far away you would probably be a regular patron of the place. It is hard to take photos when the items are under glass because of reflections but I did my best. I am glad that you liked getting to see some of them. Obviously, there is so much more to see!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 06, 2018:

Hi Shyron,

I know that you will be impressed when you get to visit The Printing Museum. Make sure that they are open when you plan your visit since their hours are soon to change.

Ann Carr from SW England on August 06, 2018:

This is a wonderful place and I would love to visit, though I doubt I ever will! It's full of so much that 'grabs' me. Anything to do with words, printing, language is right up my alley and I found your photos so inviting.

Thanks for the information and education, Peggy.

Ann

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on August 05, 2018:

Peggy, I love this! When working for this town's newspaper of record, my editor would say that once you get ink in your blood you will have to write.

When I make to Houston this is first on my list to see.

Blessings my friend.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 04, 2018:

Hi Genna,

That is the way it used to be done...setting each letter of type by hand. It was a lengthy process to be sure.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on August 03, 2018:

What an interesting article and tour of the history of the printed word. Can you imagine setting up type by hand? I would love to visit this museum...I would spend hours there. Thanks so much Peggy.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 02, 2018:

Hi Jackie,

It definitely takes some time to appreciate everything that is on display in The Printing Museum particularly if one is to read all of the historic newspapers, etc. on the walls. Demonstrations of how the Gutenberg Press functions and seeing how things come off of it in printed form is also interesting. The special exhibits also make things interesting for returning visitors.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on August 02, 2018:

Oh I would love to visit here! I would want to spend as much time as allowed and soak each one of these items in. Seems people in my crowd want to hurry along and I do hate to be rushed through something so unique and special.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 02, 2018:

Hi Linda,

Glad I could show you a bit of what you might be able to see if you could visit this museum in person. You surely live in a gorgeous part of the world! I still remember fondly the 8 days of vacation we spent there many years ago.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on August 01, 2018:

This looks and sounds like a great place to visit. Thanks for sharing the interesting photos and information, Peggy. It was very enjoyable to read your article, especially since I will probably never visit the museum in person.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 01, 2018:

Hello Readmikenow,

It would seem that I have done my job if it makes you want to visit The Printing Museum. Appreciate your comment.

Readmikenow on August 01, 2018:

Very well done article. Great pictures and video. Well, you made me want to visit this museum. Enjoyed reading it.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 01, 2018:

Hi Liz,

I am pleased that you liked this. Thanks for your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 01, 2018:

Hi manatita,

Our Printing Museum really does have many interesting as well as archival items on display. Hope you come to Houston someday. You would enjoy visiting there.

Liz Westwood from UK on August 01, 2018:

This is an incredibly comprehensive, interesting and well-illustrated article.

manatita44 from london on August 01, 2018:

$8.00 for me. See you in Houston. A bit like a unique kind of archive, this Printing Museum. I like the bust of Benjamin Franklyn.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 01, 2018:

Hi Mary,

As a collector of woodblocks, I know that you would enjoy this museum. The next time you visit your friends in Houston you should put it on your list of places to see.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 01, 2018:

Hi Virginia,

I agree with you in that history can be fascinating. Thanks for taking a virtual visit to The Printing Museum.

Virginia Allain from Central Florida on August 01, 2018:

As a retired librarian, this is just the kind of museum I'd enjoy very much. Actually, any history museum fascinates me.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on August 01, 2018:

Hi Peggy, this is another interesting reason to visit Texas. I have some woodblocks from India and Vietnam and am interested to see the other Asian blocks. I love Print and its history so this would be an interesting place to explore.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 01, 2018:

Hi Pamela,

I am glad that you enjoyed this look at our Printing Museum in Houston. In high school, I took a typing class. That predated electric typewriters which came after that. Guess we are both of a similar vintage. (Smile)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 01, 2018:

Hi FlourishAnyway,

We are indeed fortunate to have this museum located here in Houston. It is so educational and also a fun place to visit. People can watch the Gutenberg Press being used to create a gorgeously illustrated page from the Bible that they can take with them if they wish.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 01, 2018:

Hi Alexander,

This Printing Museum is indeed fascinating. Thanks for taking the time to read about it and leave a comment.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on August 01, 2018:

Peggy, This looks like a very interesting museum. I enjoyed looking at the pictures of old newspapers and the old machines. The linotype video was interesting.

I got a portable typewriter for a graduation present to use in college. I guess that sure ages me.

FlourishAnyway from USA on August 01, 2018:

I would love to visit this museum and see the Gutenberg press in particular. You’re very fortunate to have a museum of this quality in Houston.

Alexander James Guckenberger from Maryland, United States of America on July 31, 2018:

This looks fascinating!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 31, 2018:

Hello Rajan,

We are indeed fortunate to have this Printing Museum here in Houston. Thanks for your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 31, 2018:

Hi Bill,

As a history buff, you would definitely enjoy visiting The Printing Museum. It would take many visits to read about all of the collected historical items in this museum. History nerds are welcomed also. Haha!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 31, 2018:

Hi Rochelle,

I am sure that the museum in your area appreciates your efforts in giving school tours. Museums often operate successfully because of their volunteers. You would really appreciate visiting this Printing Museum in Houston given the fact of your dad owning a print shop. Thanks for being the first to comment.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on July 31, 2018:

Very interesting. You are indeed lucky to have such a treasure in Houston. Thanks for sharing information and pictures of these ancient artifacts which not many would have the chance to see.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 31, 2018:

Yep, I would go there. I guess I'm just a history nerd through and through.

Rochelle Frank from California Gold Country on July 31, 2018:

I have not been to this museum, but there is a printing museum in Buena Park, Southern California. My dad and his partner owned a small print shop for about 40 years, so I grew up around some of this stuff.

We also have a print shop at the gold rush museum in our town. When the printer can't do it I sometimes fill in to give school tours there. The smell of printer's ink and kerosene always bring back memories of my earlier days.