The Conner Museum of Antique Printing

The Southern Indiana Center for the Arts is a complete art center. Our plans to represent all the arts brought about the preservation of the art of printing. The Museum of Antique Printing, located in its own building, was dedicated in 2003. It is unique in that it is not just a “look at” museum, it is a hands-on, working print shop representing the printing methods of the 1800’s.

The new building was designed to represent the time period of the 1800’s. Rough plank floors, wood ceiling and walls, hand poured window panes, rough cedar siding, bare copper lettering, and a “Betsy Ross” flag puts the visitor in the mood of days gone by. Granted, the light fixtures only represent oil lamps and we don’t mention the modern air conditioning and heating.

The preservation of two printing presses that were used by the local newspaper as far back as 1850 are the center pieces. The fact that they are part of the history of the community and not just a couple of old presses, makes the museum unique. Also, the fact that they work and are used, makes a tour of the print shop more interesting. The visitor actually gets to help ink up the presses and pull the levers.

A “hands-on” time line along the wall lets the visitor travel the history of the written and printed word from the caveman’s stone tablet to lithography. They may touch actual Egyptian papyrus, sheep skin parchment, calf skin vellum, and hand-made paper. They will see how our written language developed from the symbols of the pre-historic man to the Egyptian hieroglyphic picture language. They will follow the instruments of writing to Johannes Gutenberg’s methods of printing. It is historical and educational. It is fascinating to young and old alike.