Hamilton Wood Type Museum

I visited the Hamilton Wood Type Museum (http://woodtype.org) today. My very first time ever. Which is odd. Because I’ve lived near there practically my whole life. I’ve also been a freelance Graphic Designer for three years and known about it’s existence for almost six years. 
Why I had been dragging my feet to visit I can’t say. Maybe it was from burn out. I work a lot. I sleep a lot. I get tired just from waking up in the morning these days. Maybe it was deeper than that. Maybe I was on design burn out. I was visualized out. Design was on the back burner. It wasn’t making me my living. Retail was, and retail was stealing my soul. 
I needed a break from retail. 
So I decided after work today I was going to go to the museum. That was, after bumming off wifi at McDonald’s, and after responding to a million e-mails, and after avoiding the phone call from a coworker to come in to close in cosmetics. 
I made it though. Just before closing. Browsed through. Bought a bunch of cool stuff (to show my support for local economy as well as the cause). I loved it. I asked to volunteer there. 
What I love about this place is not only its historical significance as a home for industrial revolution artifacts. Not only its importance to graphic design. Not only its awesome industrial space. It is predominately the fact that those same pieces of type from so long ago…are still being used, held, catalogued, and still have so much life left to offer. 
They are barely alive though.
The problem is the lack of demand keeping those little wood letters alive. Letter press is a dying art, and though it is somewhat reviving with Indy culture bring it to closer to the forefront of popular culture, it isn’t enough. 
What is dying even more is the ability to make wood type. When the Hamilton Company closed its doors, many of the individuals who carved the wood pieces for the letter presses were replaced by machines and computers. As technology improved, those mysterious artists began to die off, and the artistry they conducted (though they would humbly/ignorantly call it a “job”) ended up dying with them. 
The museum survives. With sales from their humble gift shop (http://woodtype.org/store) and the help of the Historical Society of Two Rivers keeping it alive through ice cream sales from the local watering hole The Washington House (a community museum made from one of the oldest buildings in town, and the “home of the ice cream sundae”). 
The sometimes sad, hopeful, and simple tale of the Hamilton Wood Type Museum can be heard in the film “Type Face” by Justine Nagan (winner of the Best Documentary in the 2009 Flyway Film Festival). If you wish to help keep this beautiful and under appreciated art form alive, feel free to donate to the Hamilton Wood Type Museum (http://woodtype.org/support). Or better yet, sign up for a class (http://woodtype.org/learn) and visit sometime. 


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