Page 14 - April 2017
P. 14

|  Musée de L’Imprimerie  |                  |  Rosanne Musgrave (10794)  |

       A ‘Living’ French Printing Museum

            or many, the French city of Nantes   printing museum of thirty years standing
            is no more than a motorway sign   that is a delight to visit. The entrance is
       Fon the drive from Brittany through   hard to fi nd and it is easy to miss it but
       the Loire and on to the south-west. Once   once inside you will fi nd a captivating
                                                      treasure trove of artefacts and
                                                      machinery.
                                                        In 1986, the town accepted
                                                      a gift of a collection of old
                                                      presses and equipment and
                                                      the idea of a ‘living museum’
                                                      was born. Some seventy
                                                      volunteers, many retired
                                                      printing professionals, worked
                                                      to restore the many diverse
                                                      items. The principle behind the
                                                      museum was that an individual
                                                      would visit the collection
                                                      innocent of knowledge and
                                                      leave with an understanding
                                                      of how a book was made –
                                                      designed, set, printed on paper,
                                                      bound and gilded. In addition,
       a busy seaport in the estuary of the Loire,   amateurs and experts in the world of
       it is today a rich and lively community   printing would come to use the materials
       which strikes a balance between historical   and machines in the spacious fi rst fl oor
       heritage and innovation with an incredible   accommodation.
       diversity of architecture, art, gastronomy     And, thirty years later, the vision has
       and culture. With about half a million   been fully realized – there are 1000 cases
       inhabitants, it is now the sixth largest   of type (and another 3000 in the stocks)
       city in France. Its inheritance includes   and a magnifi cent variety of wooden
       benefi ting from the largest
       harbour in France in the
       seventeenth century, enduring
       the turmoil of revolution
       and emerging as a successful
       industrial centre in the
       nineteenth century, especially
       in the fi elds of ship building
       and food processing.
         But for the printer of today,
       Nantes off ers another treasure
       – the Musée de L’Imprimerie
       at 24 Quai de la Fosse – a
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