Beijing’s Supercool Steampunk Printing Museum

“There’s nothing like that around here,” said a shoe-repair man.

Two waitresses laughed at us, and a woman selling onions gasped. “A watermelon museum?” she asked, “Really?”

So we tried the Printing Museum instead.

It was closed.

The 12-foot-tall black doors, the entire four-floor building, was firmly locked. I’d read about a great statue of the father of printing, Bi Sheng, and sprawling planographic exhibits. But it, like the Watermelon Museum, was just out of our grasp.

Until Michelle discovered an unlocked door leading into a basement.

“Let’s go!” she whispered, and rushed down. I followed, unsure.

Down a flight of stairs, through more doorways, down a corridor, and into a massive skylit hall. It was filled with machines: ball-shaking proofing presses, film linearisators, letterpress dusters, and saddle wire binding machines. 1980s computers sat discarded beside 10′-tall dinosaurs of rusting cogs and gears and levers. Presses dripped oil onto blankets shoved beneath them.

Michelle showed me the machine she prints on, then pointed to another.

“But that’s what it’s really like,” she said.

The name of the machine was only one word.


Beijing Printing Museum, 中国印刷博物馆
Northwest corner of Qingyuan Lu Subway Stop (Line 4)
Beijing, Daxing, Xinghua Street, 黄村镇兴华北路25号
+86 10 6026 1049 ‎

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