Discovering a unique museum in the world, dedicated to printing and movable type, located in a fascinating former industrial archeology complex.
In Cornuda, in what was an important rope factory in the 19th century, the original Tipoteca museum was born in 2002. A very unique one, not only for what is kept here but also for how it was “built” over time, thanks to a history made of much love for one of the most beautiful jobs in the world, that of the typographer.
Tipoteca Italiana is a museum complex of 3000 m2, dedicated to the history of printing and in particular of movable type, which houses an archive of over 5000 families of both lead and wood characters, of which many are rare or even unique in the world, mainly from ‘800 onwards.
Tipoteca is not just a museum: all the machines on display are working ones, making it an important center of experimentation and artistic production.
Today the museum is an international reference point, a destination for designers and artists who come here to study or to take inspiration. Among the many illustrious “visits”, the top management of Adobe recently went to the Tipoteca to study the characters of the Italian historical-artistic heritage preserved here and, thanks to this research, they have created 3 new fonts for their software.
Tipoteca Italiana is a private non-profit foundation born from the passion of the Antiga brothers, owners of Grafiche Antiga, a reference company in the sector and the only large-scale printing house still owned by the family that founded it in 1968. A philosophy based on quality and beauty: suffice it to mention that they were the first Italian printers of the legendary Pirelli Calendar. If you are lucky enough to take a tour of the headquarters located a few kilometers from the Tipoteca, in the showroom you can see the prints of many “vintages”, including the last one by Paolo Roversi.
But let’s get back to our story. In the 90s, the passion of Silvio Antiga, one of the four founding brothers, pushed him to start a “crazy” project. He decides to write to almost 10,000 printers from all over Italy asking to acquire their movable type and machinery, many of which would otherwise have been destroyed or lost, given the advent of digital.
Thus began a collection that gave life to the extraordinary rooms of the museum where you can explore the entire history of Italian typography: from the Gutenberg revolution, around 1440, to the advent of modernity with rare “gems”, such as the 1840 Amos dell’Orto press or the Linotype monoline casting machine invented in 1881. Used for the first time in the New York Tribune in 1886, it allowed the development of the newspaper business, allowing to compose a page faster (considering that until then no newspaper had more than 8 pages). A technology that was used until the 1960s when it was replaced by the “cold type composition” done by using a computer.
Tipoteca is not, however, just a museum: another uniqueness is given by the fact that all the machines on display are working ones, making it an important center of experimentation and artistic production. A wing of the museum is, in fact, dedicated to the printing workshop where you can learn, for example, all the secrets of the now back in fashion letterpress, but also of calligraphy or bookbinding.
The museum also hosts events with international guests and highly original thematic exhibitions.
After the visit, you can book a lunch at le Corderie, a restaurant of the same property located right in front of the museum. Obviously inspired by movable type, it will give you the opportunity to try the specialties of the area and continue to immerse yourself in the post-industrial history of this beautiful corner of Veneto.
The museum is located inside the restored buildings of the Canapificio Veneto Antonini-Ceresa: in particular, the former Church of Santa Teresa, and the former guesthouse, the girls’ dormitory. At the peak of production, there were, in fact, over 1500 young women who worked in the factory.