Our Country's Papermaking Museum

Our Country's Papermaking Museum

25 Days of Paper 2015, Day 3

Robert C. Williams Museum of Papermaking- permanent exhibition

Robert C. Williams Museum of Papermaking – permanent exhibition

In 1939 the Dard Hunter Paper Museum opened at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Seventy-six years later, the museum is now known as the Robert C. Williams Museum of Papermaking, and can be found in Atlanta, at Georgia Tech.

Dard Hunter, at the Paper Museum when it was located at Institute of Paper Chemistry, Appleton, Wisconsin, ca 1963. Hunter served as Curator until his death in 1966.

Dard Hunter, at the Paper Museum when it was located at Institute of Paper Chemistry, Appleton, Wisconsin, ca 1963. Hunter served as Curator until his death in 1966.

In case you don’t know who Dard Hunter is… he is considered by many to be the “father of hand papermaking” in the United States.  Born in 1883, Hunter was heavily involved in the Roycrofters of East Aurora, NY—the American branch of the Arts and Crafts movement.  During his time with the Roycrofters, Hunter developed skills in graphic design, stained glass, and metalwork. His interest  in hand papermaking developed in 1911, when he visited London.  Upon his return, he began his own limited-edition press, called Mountain House Press in Chillicothe, Ohio. He also opened a hand papermaking mill in Lime Rock, Connecticut, which had a short life but long legacy with papermakers. Hunter did more than make paper, he also traveled extensively around the world to learn and document various hand papermaking techniques. These histories were published in limited-edition books Dard produced: with handmade paper, type faces designed by Dard, and hand bound.

Selection of Dard Hunter’s engraving and printing tools, early 20th century

Selection of Dard Hunter’s engraving and printing tools, early 20th century

By 1934, Hunter had collected over 10,000 artifacts and 2,000 books related to the history and process of hand papermaking. He felt this collection was too valuable to keep from public use, and in 1939 the Dard Hunter Paper Museum opened at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Hunter stated the museum was established “…with the hope of stimulating interest in the ancient craft of papermaking and promoting understanding of present-day paper and its relation to the graphic arts.” In 1954, the Museum moved to the Institute of Paper Chemistry in Appleton, Wisconsin. Dard was named honorary curator of the museum, and served in this position until his death in 1966.

Prayer Rolls

Prayer Rolls

The museum relocated to Atlanta, Georgia in 1989, and became part of Georgia Tech in 2003 and is part of the Renewable Bioproducts Institute, a research institute at Tech. The museum serves the university community, local schools and groups, and the world of hand papermakers. The museum now has a collection of close to 100,000 artifacts, including collections from Douglass Howell, Harrison Elliott, Sukey Hughes, and others. A digitization project is under way to make these materials more accessible online.

Robert C. Williams Museum of Papermaking – permanent exhibition

Robert C. Williams Museum of Papermaking – permanent exhibition

Visitors are welcome to visit Monday through Friday from 9-5, and there is no admission, though donations are suggested. Groups of more than 10 are required to make a reservation for a program.  The museum offers tours for groups ages 5 and up. Workshops are offered throughout the year that focus on different aspects of papermaking and paper craft.  Information about workshops is available online. Schedules are updated throughout the year.  Upcoming workshops include tunnel books, a family kite-making workshop, and basic papermaking. 

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About Our Sponsor: The Robert C. Williams Museum of Papermaking’s mission is to collect, preserve, increase and disseminate knowledge about papermaking – past, present and future. In today’s electronic world, paper still plays an important role! The museum provides tours and workshops to school groups from kindergartners to college students, and offers workshops on all sorts of papermaking and paper arts for a wide range of people. The Paper Museum also educates in a digital way. Active on Facebook and Instagram, the museum shares items from the collections, historic photos, and even behind-the-scenes looks at exhibit installation.

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About the 25 Days of Paper 2015: It’s a great time to celebrate paper, and I’m delighted to share my ideas for using this amazing material with you. Throughout December, I’ll be posting a paper tutorial on even days, and every odd day will bring news about paper artists, stores, distributors and more! Receive updates via e-mail by adding your address in the upper right hand corner of this page. Enjoy the season, and feel free to leave a comment below and check out what people are making in the 25 Days of Paper FB Group!

2 Comments

  1. Tom Leech, two weeks ago, gave us a tour of some amazing rare books at the Palace of the Governor’s Museum in Santa Fe. We also discussed Dard Hunter and his visionary contributions to humanity through his love of paper making.
    I enjoy watching book people handle books and paper, because of the intelligence in their hands and the tactile recognition of fine papers.
    The photograph of Dard shows his delicate understanding of paper in the way he is holding the spread! Like a baby! I want to visit this museum!

    • Helen says:

      It is a treat to see these treasures in person! And your observation of how the handlers care for the objects is lovely. Thanks, Sally!

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