Ten Design-Inspired Destinations

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.

Cooper Hewitt Museum

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.

Museum of Design Atlanta

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.

Franklin Court Printing Office

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.

Hamilton Wood Type Museum

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!

National Building Museum

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.

Palace Press Santa Fe

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.

Buchstaben Museum Berlin

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.

Museum of Printing

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.

Design Museum Holon Israel

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.”

Printing Museum


Erica Gamet

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.



Posted on: May 7, 2014

Erica Gamet

Erica Gamet has been involved in the graphics industry for over 25 years. She is a speaker, writer, and trainer, focusing on Adobe InDesign and Illustrator, Apple Keynote and iBooks Author, and other print- and production-related topics. She is a regular contributor to InDesign Magazine, tech edited How To Do Everything with Adobe InDesign CS4, and served as leader of the Denver InDesign User Group. After living as a nomad for almost a year, she recently put down roots in El Paso, Texas, where she hikes and bikes every chance she gets. Check out ericagamet.com to see all of Erica's upcoming events, tips and tricks, and workbooks.

4 Comments on Ten Design-Inspired Destinations

  1. Margaret Foster, Lexington, KY

    May 14, 2014 at 8:49 pm

    ‪What about Gastrotypographicalassemblage‬?
    35 feet (11 m) wide by 8.5 feet (2.6 m) tall work of art designed by Lou Dorfsman and originally displayed in the cafeteria of the CBS Building on 52nd Street and Sixth Avenue, New York City and discarded in the early 1990s but fortunately saved by designer Nick Fasciano. Following the death of Lou Dorfsman in 2008, it was announced that The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY would serve as the new home for Gastrotypographicalassemblage.[3] The college has been working with Nick Fasciano to fund the restoration, and the work will be on public display for the first time starting in March 2014 when it will be showcased in the CIA’s new Marriott Pavilion and Conference Center.

    Surely that would be a worthy destination for a designer and might include a great meal as well! Ha! It’s on my bucket list!

  2. ampersandranch

    May 15, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    If I ever make it to Nashville, I’m sure to find my way to Hatch Show Print (hatchshowprint.com) where the presses have been operating since 1880. Their newest space now includes not only the print shop (tours include a pull-your-own commemorative print) but also a gallery, classroom/workshop space, and—of course—a gift shop.

    I’m also waiting anxiously for the opening of The Englewood Depot (letterpressdepot.com) just outside of Denver, CO. The Depot bills itself as “a living museum of letterpress printing, typography, design, poetry & art.”

  3. OMG!! The Printing Museum in Houston is awesome… I’ve used to go several times a month when I lived there…. sorry I’m a junkie for vintage things… and all these museum stuff I just can’t get enough off!!! 

  4. I have been to a few of these already, some are on my (ever-growing) to-see list! After writing the article, I realize I have got to see even MORE of these very cool places. Anything with printing is a must-see in my book!

    And thanks for the comments…keep ’em coming!

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