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Norwegian Printing Museum relaunches in former canning factory

DDIS Norwegian Printing Museum and Norwegian Canning Museum. Photograph by Marcus Sies

The Norwegian Printing Museum has relocated to the site of a former sardine canning factory in the historic district of  Stavanger in southwest Norway and will open to the public tomorrow.

The factory building, dating back to 1841, is already home to the Norwegian Canning Museum and the two museums will operate together under the name Iddis, derived from iddikett, the word for label in the local dialect. Established in 1991, the Norwegian Printing Museum’s previous home became part of a hotel development, which led to it being relocated to the canning factory.

IDDIS Norwegian Printing Museum. Printing Presses.

The Norwegian Printing Museum covers a period of more than 40,000 years of ‘printing’ history from the first human records in the form of cave paintings to the digital present. Its main focus is on the transformation of printing techniques for text and images with the museum featuring a spacious workshop area called the Print Shop on its upper floor where visitors can get close-up to 12 historic printing machines.

IDDIS Norwegian Printing Museum. Print Shop. Photograph by Marcus Sies

The museum exhibition on the ground floor of the building extends over two large, chronologically arranged spatial units connected by a media tunnel. Visitors enter the museum from the Canning Museum and the first exhibition space encountered concerns image reproduction, with a focus on lithography and photography.

Hundreds of images are shown through the corridor, leading up to a Gutenberg printing press, accompanied by typewriters and early computers. The printing press is the central exhibit and is the platform to tell the story of the wide-scale dissemination of printed material from 1450 onwards with the invention of moveable letters.

IDDIS Norwegian Printing Museum. Media Tunnel.
Photograph by Marcus Sies

In Stavanger, the art of printing blossomed from the late 19th century onwards as local canned-fish production resulted in numerous printing orders. These labels became extremely important for the marketing of canned fish, which was exported from Stavanger to all parts of the world until the 1950s.

The exhibition The Lithography in Stavanger connects the two industrial museums, which share a common story: with the large canning industry a great need for printed matter grew, and it was the lithographic production that laid the foundation for the large graphic industry in Stavanger.

With a reconstructed working lithographic press the museum will demonstrate Alois Senefelder’s invention from 1798 and, based on local businesses, it will show the technique and the products, from stone to colourful label.

About the author – Adrian Murphy

Adrian is the Editor of MuseumNext and has 20 years’ experience as a journalist, half of which has been writing for the cultural sector.

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