Print museum seeks $200,000 to avoid eviction

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The embattled  Melbourne Museum of Print (MMoP) is seeking a benefactor willing to inject $200,000 into the project, in order to help it stave off eviction from its current premises.

Long labour of love: Michael Isaachsen, Melbnourne Museum of Printing
Long labour of love: Michael Isaachsen, Melbourne Museum of Printing

The lifelong labour of love of Michael Isaachsen has reached an impasse with its current landlord, who has threatened to empty the building of all the contents if the funds aren’t forthcoming.

Isaachsen said, “He (the landlord) needs to sell or rent-out the place. We need the place, even if he is difficult, it is the best value around for size, location and condition."

"When you think about it, the most impportant question is not "can you give money?" It is "if the museum re-starts successfully and reaches many people, will that benefit the industry?"

Shedding light on the situation Isaachsens said, “Up to now, MMoP has taken 40+ years of effort and around $4m, and it needs perhaps $1m to restart. “The immediate best value is we pay $200,000 upfront to get a 12-month window to either rebuild (including set up new board and secure startup funding) or ready the archives for donation to other museums, then close. Alternatively we get funding to buy the place for around $5m."

Isaachsen says the threat is that the landlord is not going to wait for funding (unless a clear intention emerges, other than from himself), and is says the landlord is ordering skips now to take the contents of the museum to the tip. He says, “When machinery was sold (in 2019), a million or so archival documents were not taken and are still there: some more valuable than others.”

According to Isaachsen not all the machinery that was in the museum has been actually lost: some key items were bought by other museums and can be returned, and other items are stored elsewhere.

Issachsen has lost none of his enthusiasm for the MMoP - which is a not-for-profit charity - and forsees a time where 200,000 people a year will go through the building, taking in the history of print in Australia.

The MMoP began life in 1977, originally selling metal type as the hot metal era was drawing to a close with electronic typesetting took over. It morphed into a museum in the early 1990s, and moved to its present premises in 2011, but hasn’t been open since 2018.

In the 40 years since Isaachsen started his quixotic quest to curate printing history in tangible form, he has spent over $4m of his own and his family’s money to keep the venture afloat. He sacrificed his career with Telecom at the age of 50 to work full time on the MMoP, selling his home as well as spending his superannuation to keep the venture going.

Along the way he collected an amazing number of vintage presses, the oldest being an 1849 Albion letterpress by Wilsons of London. There are also Monotype hot-metal typesetting systems, a Mergenthaler Linotype, and a Ludlow Typograph that casts from matrices assembled by hand. In addition there are cases filled with type, numerous platens and even old fashioned switchboards – everything, in fact, you’d need to operate a printing plant, albeit pre-digital, even pre-offset.

Anyone wishing to help Isaachsen and the Melbourne Musieum of Print can contact him directly on

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