Museum: no clear way forward

The Melbourne Museum of Printing (MMOP) remains in crisis, with players in the industry offering up differing ideas, there remains no clear way forward.

Currently the founder, Michael Isaachsen remains locked out of the premises, with a suspended lease notice from his landlord. The museum is said to have racked up almost $500,000 in unpaid rent.

Isaachsen essentially wants the Museum – which is by far Australia’s biggest print museum – to remain at a similar size. Other such as print shop owner James Taylor want it to shrink down so it can be viable. The PIAA looks like it is not wanting to get involved. James Cryer wants an action committee formed. Meanwhile time cracks on and the debt mounts.

James Taylor, co-owner of local family owned offset printer Taylor’d Press feels strongly about the ordeal. He says, “My idea is to keep the museum going somewhere else, nowhere near at the scale he has it going at the moment. I do not know what to do, if anyone else is out there looking to save it, can we get together and do something. The printing museum in Penrith is doing well, maybe Melbourne should look at their model, see how it works and copy it.”

A commenter on the ProPrint article about the museum says, “It is up to the industry if the players that are still left think it is worth preserving some history or if not so be it.”

James Cryer, well known print historian and head of JDA Recruitment says, ‘It would be real shame to see it go. I am suggesting that the PIAA forms an action group to try and help save the Museum. However it is difficult with the amount of money it needs.”

The PIAA – both CEO Andrew Macaulay and Victorian Board member Ron Patterson –  declined to comment on the situation at the Museum.

[Related: Museum of Printing goes into limbo]

Taylor says, “He has a lot of equipment, you will find one machine and there will be four of it. We could get rid of those replicas and keep one. We could organise an auction, have a big barbeque and make a big day out of it. He could auction off the excess stuff, pay off the tow trucks to tow all it away, pay for the barbeque and the rest of the profits could pay off his debts.

However Isaachsen  says, “We have a large collection but the aim of the museum is to be preserving things for future generations.

“There are tens of thousands of things in the museum. We need to find out what we have before we get rid of anything. We have no staff currently. It will be a couple of years before we can sort through it all and decide what will be kept and should be shed. We have to resist it in the short term.”

Taylor says, “They should start a new organisation with a board to organise it all and curate the collection. I know quite a lot of people have donated and not seen any of it returned. He needs to be removed, not to be on the board or if he is there to not be running it.

“We have a couple of old machines and once it is gone, it is gone. It is hard to find now. This a good industry with good people and some of them grew up on this stuff. I like the old machinery, it is cool. I like the idea of preserving it, but it has to be viable. It would be a shame for all of it to be thrown away.

“Designers like the old machines. There has been a lot of bad printing, with everyone being on their iPhones now. Any promotion of good printing is a win for the industry.

“They have been running workshops, I know a couple of years ago they had one and students were able to go and see the old equipment. They love touching it and seeing how it works.

The museum has proposed converting to an organisation with full time staff, with a call for donations being made by Isaachsen.

Isaachsen says, “I do not believe other museums have to pay commercial rent, with a few exceptions and they might have support. But we need to take money out of our activities and workshops. People pay hundreds of dollars to come but it is still not enough.

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