The National Print Museum was founded by members of the print industry, spearheaded by Sean Galavan, and in 1996 it officially opened at the Office of Public Works’ Garrison Chapel in Beggars Bush Barracks. The Museum is a private company and a registered charity, with principal income from the Irish government, and is fully accredited under The Heritage Council’s Museums Standards Programme for Ireland.
The Museum the only one of its kind in Ireland, with a collection mostly made up of fully operational letterpress printing equipment. Letterpress is a form of relief printing invented by Johannes Gutenberg in 1439. It was the chief manner of printing for over 500 years before becoming obsolete, in the commercial sense, in the mid-twentieth century. As a working collection, the main display is not behind glass or rope and is organised like a traditional 1960s print-shop. The panel of retired printers and compositors who founded the Museum continue to play a vital role in preserving the collection and the craft. A major mission of the Museum is preserving their knowledge and skills and passing them on to future generations.
The temporary exhibitions explore the impact of print and the powerful role it played in shaping our histories. Printed artefacts capture the spirit of the age in which they were created. The development, prosperity, and rich heritage of Irish printing makes up an important part of our national story of craft and industry. On an international level, the invention of print changed the world, its impact has shaped our histories, and its contemporary relevance is greater than ever before.