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Knock On Wood

renowned type museum brings collection to UWEC

Thom Fountain

WOODEN ALPHABET SOUP. The Hamilton Wood Type Museum will be displaying parts of its collection locally at UW-Eau Claire’s Foster Gallery until Mar. 12.
WOODEN ALPHABET SOUP. The Hamilton Wood Type Museum will be displaying parts of its collection locally at UW-Eau Claire’s Foster Gallery until Mar. 12.

Considering the quickening pace of technology, a lot gets left in the dust. But as our hands get less and less dirty on a daily basis, we certainly lose some of the art that comes with the “old way.”

Take printing. Today’s laserjets have nothing on the beautiful, but painstaking process of letterpress. A museum in Two Rivers has taken it upon itself to maintain that art, and now the museum is bringing it here to Eau Claire.

The Hamilton Wood Type Museum will be displaying a sampling from its collection at the Foster Gallery at UW-Eau Claire from Feb. 20-March 12. The show will consist of tools and printed images from the “first great information revolution.”

The beauty of letterpress and wood type have caught fire in recent years, with Hamilton collaborating with Target to create clothing designs and small letterpress shops popping up around the country. And it’s no wonder. There’s something very real and physical about the process and the end result, with the curvy, chunky lettering, will never go out of style.

Hamilton knows its way around that. The Hamilton Type Company in Two Rivers was the largest wood type manufacturer in the U.S. for years after being founded in 1880. The museum was started in 2000 in Two Rivers and most recently moved to a new building twice the size of their previous space. The organization runs the Hamilton Wood Type Museum as a “working museum.” They open their space to artists, typographers, designers, and students to get their hands dirty and use the equipment like it was meant ot be used. Now, the Hamilton Company manufactures steel lab equipment, but the museum still holds the history of their type shops.

Luckily, we still have that legacy to behold and, for a short time, it’s right here under our noses.

Artifacts from the Hamilton Wood Type Museum will be on display at the Foster Gallery in Haas Fine Arts at UW-Eau Claire until March 12.

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