Brief introduction of China Printing Museum

Printing goes through thousands of years. From woodblock printing to movable type, from clay type to lead type, from laser printing to digital printing, the invention, development and application of them, all soak with the wisdom and sweat to spread Chinese national culture. In the historic culture and abundant ancient civilization, generations of printing people, with their exquisite skills and wisdom, have left a precious cultural heritage for the Chinese nation. To promote the Chinese culture, remember the ancient wisdom, inherit the creative spirit, and inspire future generations to make progress, in the support of Communist Party of China and the country, the warm help from home and abroad, China Printing Museum was officially completed and opened to the public on June 1st, 1996.

Figure 1 Chinese Printing Museum

1.     The Development history of the museum

In June 1983, Mr. Wang Yi and Mr. Wang Fangzi prepared to build the China printing museum. In October 1991, Mr. Fan Muhan began to conduct preparatory work. Under the care of the Party and country leaders, in the support of General Administration of Press and Publication, China Printing Museum was officially completed and opened to the public on June 1st, 1996, and president Jiang Zemin personally inscribed the name of China Printing Museum. 

Figure2. On December 4, 1992, Li Tieying, Fan Muhan attended the foundation laying ceremony

Figure3. Li Tieying and other leaders attended the inauguration ceremony of the museum in 1996

The staff of China printing museum committee made a great contribution for building the China Printing Museum. Many experts and enthusiasts provided lots of help during the construction process. Mr. Fan Muhan, the leader of the preparatory work, was on a heavy duty and persisted in working during his serious illness. Fu Xinian, Wang Xuan, Qi Gong and domestic printing industry predecessors made a positive contribution to the establishment of the printing museum by offering advices and donating cultural relics.

The construction of the China Printing Museum has been concerned by the leaders of the country. In 1996, President Jiang Zemin and Lei Jieqiong visited the China printing history exhibition set up by the China Printing Museum in the exhibition center of Beijing. In 1996, the year of museum’s foundation, Premier Li Peng wrote an inscription for the construction of the museum: to promote national culture and the revitalization of the printing industry. Ding Guangen, Li Tieying and other leaders inspected China Printing Museum. In 1999, Vice Premier Li Lanqing visited the China Printing Museum and listened to the work report of the museum. In 2006, on the 10th anniversary of the museum’s foundation, Liu Qi and Wang Qishan, the leader of Beijing, visited the China Printing Museum. The former head of the State Press and publication administration, Comrade--Zhang Xinmin visited the printing museum in the same year. In 2015, Jiang Jianguo, Secretary of the Party committee of SAPPRFT (the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television), Sun Shoushan and Song Mingchang, members of the Party committee, visited the printing museum.

China Printing Museum has won many prizes, and we will work hard to let the audiences enjoy the moment when they come to the museum. 

Figure4. In 1996, former president Jiang Zemin browsed through " Autograph book of Building China Printing Museum " 

Figure5. In 1999, Vice Prime Li Lanqing, listened to the work report in the conference room of CPM 

2. Our typography, the world's printing - museum exhibition

As one of the four great inventions in ancient China, printing technology has greatly promoted the dissemination of knowledge and culture and made important contributions to the progress of human thought and science and culture. Therefore, people call printing the "mother of civilization."

The purpose of the construction of China Printing Museum is to carry forward the long and glorious printing culture of the Chinese nation, to educate the ancient people's intelligence and intelligence on all walks of life and carry out patriotism education for young people. With the theme of printing technology, it displays the representative print materials, printing technology and equipment and related raw materials from previous generations to show that the important role of printing in the aspects of developing culture, promoting social progress, disseminating scientific knowledge, developing production, improving people's life and international cultural exchanges.

China Printing Museum, a total construction area of about 8,000 square meters, exhibition area of about 6,000 square meters, it is the world's largest printing museum. The museum has ancient printing exhibition, modern printing exhibition, printing equipment exhibition, digital exhibition and temporary exhibition hall, the audience can appreciate many fantastic printing antiques and machine, such as the Southern Song printed book Commentary of Spring and Autumn Annals, the typesetting plate invented by Wang Zhen in the Yuan Dynasty, the flat-bed printing press rescued from the battle of Shanghai in 1932, the printing press can be carried by the horse used by the Jinchaji Daily during the War of Resistance Against Japan and so on. China Printing Museum also has an interactive experience area, where visitors can experience the ancient method of paper making, woodblock printing process.  In addition, China Printing Museum is also in Germany, Austria, Australia, respectively, with branch offices, exhibition area of nearly 700 square meters.

(1) Major Exhibitions

1. Ancient Chinese Printing

The exhibition hall of ancient Chinese Printing is located on the first floor of the museum, showing the historical process of the origins, development, inheritance and dissemination of ancient Chinese printing technology from the Neolithic Age down to the Qing Dynasty through pictures, written descriptions and real objects, and expounded the legend of eastern printing history.

The origin of ancient printing mainly introduces the development history of the character and the paper. It shows the history from the engraved symbols about 8000 years ago to the rubbing and stamping technology in the Period of Wei, Jin and Southern and Northern Dynasties (220-581). The development history of ancient printing is one of the key parts of the museum exhibition.  Visitors can appreciate the fantastic Southern Song printed book Commentary of Spring and Autumn Annals and the Bulletin for Reassuring the Public of Qing Dynasty, the replicate of clay movable type invented by Bi Sheng, the typesetting plate invented by Wang Zhen in the Yuan Dynasty. The display shows that China is not only the invention of woodblock printing, but also movable type printing, multi-color printing. The audiences can also experience the tradition woodblock printing technology. The heritage section of Chinese printing focuses on the world's cultural heritage associated with printing. The dissemination part focuses on displaying how Chinese printing technology spread around the world, and tells the printing spirit of our country's benefit to the world and its selflessness.

Figure6. The first floor of China Printing Museum

Figure7. Commentary of Spring and Autumn Annals

2. Modern Chinese Printing

Modern Chinese printing exhibition hall is located on the second floor of the museum, exhibition area of about 800 square meters. This exhibition hall is divided into three parts, the introduction of modern printing technology, the development of Chinese modern printing, and the close relationship of printing with contemporary life. It shows that the printing technology invented by China and the modern western printing technology were interlinked and blended in the 19th century, and show the world's rapid development of printing technology, while displaying digital printing, green printing, web printing and other new concepts and new technologies.

Figure8. Modern Printing Exhibition Hall

3. Printing Equipment

Printing equipment exhibition hall is located in the museum basement, an area of about 2,200 square meters, completed in April 2001. Various types of prepress, post-press equipment from 1865 to the early 1990's were exhibited in this hall. These devices, donated by the printing industry at home and abroad, some of the equipment are now very scarce. Including the early wrench iron printing machine, lead typesetting and casting machine, manual phototypesetting machine, etc., the world's only remaining by the United States Miller in 1926 to create weighing 45 tons of bi-color double-sheet offset press, 1892 Lithography machine produced in Austria.

The printing machines experience the historical revolution of printing technology. From those machines we can touch the historical footprints, and we can comprehend the wisdom and sweat of our predecessors.

Figure9. Printing Equipment Exhibition Hall of China Printing Museum

(2) Domestic Itinerant Exhibition

The Printing Light exhibition of China Printing Museum has held around China, such as in the Shanghai, Haikou, Taiwan and Hong Kong et al. The exhibition display Chinese long and glorious printing history, and show the great talent of ancient and modern printers.

1. In December 1998, the Shine of Chinese Printing Exhibition was held at the Hong Kong Cultural Center Exhibition Hall to celebrate the first anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the motherland.

2. In September 1999, "Excellent Print Works Exhibition" was held in the first floor of the museum main hall to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

3. In May 2000, participated in the "24th International Museum Day" held in the Working People’s Cultural Palace.

4. In April 2007, the Shine of Chinese Printing Exhibition was held at the 17th National Book Expo in Chongqing.

5. In April 2008, the Shine of Chinese Printing Exhibition was held at the 18th National Book Expo in Zhengzhou.

6. In April 2009, the Shine of Chinese Printing Exhibition was held at the 19th National Book Expo in Jinan.

7. In April 2010, the Shine of Chinese Printing Exhibition was held at the 20th National Book Expo in Chengdu.

8. In May 2011, the Shine of Chinese Printing Exhibition was held at the 21th National Book Expo in Harbin.

9. In June 2011, China Printing Museum opened up a large exhibition area in the museum and held a two-month "Red Printing Exhibition" to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the founding of the great Chinese Communist Party.

10. On June 12, 2012, a brand new the Shine of Chinese Printing Exhibition highlighting the ancient Western Xia Dynasty Printing was held at the 22nd National Book Fair in Ningxia.

11. On April 19, 2013, the Shine of Chinese Printing Exhibition was held at the 23th National Book Expo in Haikou.

12. On September 12, 2013, "Exhibition of Printing Technology History" was held at 2013 China International Press & Publication Technology Equipment Expo in Tianjin.

13. On September 24, 2013, the Shine of Chinese Printing Exhibition was held at the 4th Changchun Book Fair and the First Changchun Reading Festival.

14. On August 1, 2014, the Shine of Chinese Printing Exhibition was held at the 24th National Book Expo in Guiyang.

15. On September 25, 2015, the Shine of Chinese Printing Exhibition was held at the 25th National Book Expo in in Taiyuan.

Figure10. People take part in the woodblock printing show in Chongqing National Book Expo Book in 2007

Figure11. The audiences are interested in the Shine of Chinese Printing Exhibition in Shandong National Book Expo Book in 2009.

Figure12. The audiences are interested in the Shine of Chinese Printing Exhibition in Shanxi National Book Expo Book in 2015.

(3) Foreign Exhibitions

Cultural heritage and exchange should not just stay in the museum, but should actively go out and face the society. In recent years, the "Printing Light" exhibition of China Printing Museum has traveled all over the world. It has held many countries, such as in Germany, Austria, the United States, Russia, Greece, Britain, Turkey, Sri Lanka and Serbia et al. Over the years, the exhibition abroad has made very good social repercussions.

1. On October 20, 2006, the Shine of Chinese Printing Exhibition co-sponsored by China Printing Museum, Shanghai Donnelly Printing Co., Ltd., American Asian Cultural Center and China Culture Foundation was held at the Asian Cultural Center in Manhattan, New York.

2. On September 26, 2007, the Shine of Chinese Printing Exhibition was held at the 20th Moscow International Book Fair.

3. On October 30, 2008, the Shine of Chinese Printing Exhibition was grandly opened in the Australian China Museum in Melbourne.

4. On October 13, 2009, the Shine of Chinese Printing Exhibition was held in the world's largest book fair - the 61st Frankfurt Book Fair. Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping attended the opening ceremony.

5. April 22, 2010, the Shine of Chinese Printing Exhibition was held at the 7th Thessaloniki International Book Fair.

6. On April 18, 2012, the Shine of Chinese Printing Exhibition  was held at the 41st London Book Fair which was hosted by the Earl of London in London, this is the second largest international book copyright trade fair in the world after the Frankfurt Book Fair.

7. On November 2, 2013, "Ancient Chinese Printing Exhibition" was held at the 32nd Istanbul International Book Fair.

8. On September 18, 2014, the Shine of Chinese Printing Exhibition was held at the Sri Lanka International Book Fair in Colombo.

9. On October 24, 2014, the Shine of Chinese Printing Exhibition was held at Serbia International Book Fair in Belgrade.

10. On February 11, 2015, the Shine of Chinese Printing Exhibition was held at the 22nd Minsk International Book Fair.

11. On May 27, 2015, the Shine of Chinese Printing Exhibition was held in New York's Javits Center to attend the United States International Book Fair.

12. In January 2016, the Shine of Chinese Printing Exhibition was held at the India International Book Fair in New Delhi.

Figure13. Xi Jinping was visiting the printing exhibition of Chinese Museum at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2009.

Figure14. On September 5, 2007, China State Councilor Chen Zhili and Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Medvedev were visiting woodblock printing technology showcase in the Moscow International Book Fair.

Figure15. In 2014, Jiang Jianguo and kids of Sri Lanka experienced woodblock printing together in Sri Lanka International Book Fair

(4) Exhibition hall outside the museum

In order to promote Chinese printing culture and East-West cultural exchanges, the China Printing Museum established a good cultural relationship with the Printing Museum of Germany, South Korea, Japan, Austria and other countries,and establish branches in the United States, Germany, Austria respectively.

1. On April 15, 2000, at the invitation of the Gutenberg Museum in Germany, Tian Shengli, curator of China Printing Museum and deputy director Zhang Lianzhang attended the 600th anniversary of the birth of Gutenberg and the 100th anniversary celebration of the Gutenberg Museum. In the museum specifically set up an area of 100 square meters of "History of Ancient China Printing" exhibition, it displays a large number of exhibits about Chinese printing history.

2. In 2000, the Chinese ancient printing history exhibition of was held in the town of Miyamoto in the Austria, and was invited to display the exhibition for a long time at the Vienna Technical College.

3. On October 30, 2008, the large-scale exhibition of "Shine of Chinese Printing" was grandly opened in the Australian China Museum in Melbourne. Since then, all the exhibits have remained on display in the museum for a long time and the third branch has been established abroad.

4. On July 4, 2013, an exhibition about the history of bronze type printing of the Ming Dynasty was held in the town of Dangkou, Wuxi and a printing history exhibition hall was established for the town.

Figure16. On October 30, 2008, the Shine of Chinese Printing Exhibition was opened in Chinese Museum exhibition hall in Melbourne. 

3.Publicity and Education

As a national excellent science education institute, China Printing Museum, while doing a good job of displaying the daily exhibitions of the museum, is also actively innovating and opening up to the outside world. We try to improve our ability in social education, academic research, collections. We continue to deepen the ancient and modern printing research, explore the story behind the printing heritages, and enrich the collections and strengthen education. We actively undertake the study of the history of printing, carry forward the light of printing in China, and try to recreate the brilliant Chinese printing culture.

(1) Public education

As an important institute for propagating printing culture, the printing museum has been actively focusing on the manifestation of the museum's educational function. In the exhibition hall, a lot of interactive games and videos were designed to better showcase the cultural features of printing.  In addition, the museum instructors were required to use the simple language to talk the Chinese printing story so that the audiences can still remember the printing spirit when they go back home.

China Printing Museum has always listed the work of "Patriotism Education Base" and "Science Education Base" as its key work items. It actively participated in the activity of "one hundred science education base help one hundred science communities", and helps to give science education lecture and organize the visiting activities.

On September 6, 1997, the China Printing Museum was named "Beijing Patriotism Education Base" by Beijing Government. In May 1998, China Printing Museum was selected to be "Beijing science education base" by Beijing Science and Technology Popularization Joint Office. In 2012, the China Printing Museum was approved as a national popular science education base.

Figure17. In 2015, China Printing Museum won the "excellent national popular science education base".

Figure18 In 2008, Chinese Printing Museum exhibition service work got the audience's good reputation, and gain the a praise sent by them

(2) Academic research

As a professional museum in the printing industry, China Printing Museum has always attached great importance to in-depth study on the history of printing, has close contact with experts and scholars in the printing research at home and abroad, actively organizes the academic discussion and participates in the seminars on printing history, and compiled a number of symposium proceedings on printing history. In order to celebrate the 10th and 20th anniversary of the founding of China Printing Museum, we hold the 6th and 9th symposium on China Printing History in 2006 and 2016 respectively. Besides, the printing history forum "Twin towers in the history of world printing" held in 2009 at the Frankfurt International Book Fair in Germany was particularly effective.

Figure19. A summary of "The research of the protection measures of China publishing heritage"

(3) Collection

Strengthening the museum collections is also one of the most important tasks in museum construction.  Since its establishment, the museum has accepted the donations of many friends from home and abroad. Many units and individuals have donated collections to the museum.

Many precious collections of the museum are donated by the museum expert consultants' committee and some celebrities such as Qi Gong, Huang Zhou and Fu Xinian. In order to enrich the collection, the museum also actively contacts the collectors. From the historic pottery, scriptures and the ancient printed books to modern type, printing equipment and printed works, many fantastic printing works were collected into the museum. In 2005, with the support of the General Administration of Press and Publication and the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, the precious printed book Commentary of Spring and Autumn Annals was collected to the China Printing Museum as a museum treasure. 

Figure20. The donation of Dawenkou pottery replica.

General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out that diligent and intelligent Chinese people invented papermaking and printing. The two major inventions make great contributions to civilization all over the world. The construction of the Chinese Printing Museum bears the dream of many generations of printing workers in China. We succeed in building this museum is for the concerted efforts of many enthusiastic people both at home and abroad. People build this museum for carrying forward the Chinese printing culture, and to display the glorious printing history to the people of the world. In the future, the Printing Museum of China will make great efforts to exert its function and to contribute to the construction of a better China.

Copyright 2015,China Printing Museum,Beijing ICP,technical support No.05064761:China Publishing Network