The oldest print museum in Italy is named after Giambattista Bodoni, who wrote in his “Manual of typography”: “Anyone considering both the usefulness of the aim [of the art of printing] and the whole range of tools – from the invention of letters on – that have led us to today’s ease in printing thousands and thousands of beautifully-set sheets of paper, with words that instead of being elusive remain solid, imprinted more distinctly than they could ever have been spoken, cannot help but admire the powers of the human mind for this wonderful artifice.”
The Museo Bononiano in Parma opened in the 17th-century Palazzo della Pilotta – where Bodoni worked and lived – in 1963, the year of the 150th anniversary of the great Piedmontese typographer’s death. It showcases about one thousand rare Bodoni editions; over ten thousand letters from his correspondence, as well as documents and printing tests; some eighty thousands dies, masters, molds in which lead was poured to make type pieces, planers, and files. All these tools and materials were once kept in four neoclassic-style armoires, also on display. There is even an exact replica of the printing press used by Bodoni.
Visit the museum and you too will certainly find good reason to “admire the powers of the human mind” that furthered the art of printing.