When I travel, especially to a new city, I try to seek out lesser-known destinations. I am always intrigued by the off-the-path jewels and I love to find places that appeal to my creative side. Especially fond of design- or print-related destinations, I’ve collected a few of these creative gems below. Any plans to visit a design destination this summer? I expect a show-and-tell report in the comments section when you get back.
Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum – New York
I only recently discovered the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. Its permanent home—the Andrew Carnegie Mansion in New York City—is currently being renovated, so they’ve sent their exhibits off on a road trip. Their upcoming exhibit, “Graphic Design: Now in Production,” heads to the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston this July.
Museum of Design – Atlanta
On my first-ever visit to Atlanta last year, I learned about the Museum of Design Atlanta, located in the Midtown Arts Corridor. They do not have a permanent collection, but dedicate nearly the entire 5,000 square foot facility to one exhibit at a time. Exhibits range from industrial design to graphics and visual arts to architecture.
Franklin Court Printing Office – Philadelphia
Located right around the corner from the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall is a historical gem for print nerds, like myself. Franklin Court Printing Office showcases Ben Franklin’s contribution to the printed word and its significance in the American Revolution. Run by the National Park Service, you can watch printing press demos and learn a little history of print.
Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum – Two Rivers, WI
Calling all wood type lovers! The Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum is the place to learn all about the industry. The facility isn’t just a museum, but is also a functioning workshop where visitors can attend hands-on demonstrations and full-day workshops.
National Building Museum – Washington, DC
If architecture is your thing, check out the National Building Museum. With both permanent and changing exhibits, visitors are treated to historical artifacts, building trends, and even a building zone for the little ones!
Palace Print Shop – Santa Fe, NM
If you’ve visited Santa Fe, you’ve probably walked by this small exhibit. The Palace Print Shop is a print geek’s nirvana. The living museum is part of the Palace of the Governors and focuses on publishing from the 19th century. From metal type to hand presses to book binding, visitors can watch limited edition books being created using historical methods or peruse the book arts research library.
Buchstaben Museum of Letters – Berlin
The Buchstaben Museum of Letters doesn’t deal with written correspondence, but the art of the individual letterform. This 3,800 square foot space—which is now on my shortlist of must-see places in Berlin—focuses on individual letters and shapes, the creation process, and the materials involved in the production of the letters. Visitors can view examples of signs from Berlin’s storied history and stroll through the materials room full of neon, glazed earthenware, and chrome-plated typographic examples.
Museum of Printing – North Andover, MA
Located Massachusetts, the Museum of Printing offers something for any type or print enthusiast. Their permanent collection includes equipment ranging from hand presses to phototype compositors to the recent acquisitions of Macintosh Plusses. Other offerings of the museum include workshops, a type library, and graphic design exhibits.
The Design Museum – Holon, Israel
The Design Museum, Israel, is focused on all types of design—as diverse as fashion, industrial, sculpture, and illustration—and how it affects us in our individual lives. That focus is brought to life through special exhibits and educational programs. The museum’s permanent collection includes both contemporary and historical design from Israel and around the world.
The Printing Museum – Houston, TX
Another print-lover’s mecca, the Printing Museum in Houston is more than just a collection of artifacts. The museum offers classes on letterpress and papermaking, as well as typography and bookbinding. Past exhibits include “A Typewriter Retrospective” and the Texas-flavored “Ranch Gates of the Southwest.”
Erica Gamet has been involved in graphics and prepress for over 25 years. She is a speaker, writer, and trainer focusing on Adobe InDesign, Apple Keynote and iBooks Author and other print- and production-related topics. When she’s not keeping students from their Angry Birds games, Erica can be found propelling herself around Colorado on two wheels or watching campy British sci-fi.