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Utah printing press museum opens the gates and seizes the day with its historical collection

The Crandall Printing Museum just opened in Alpine and has four functional printing presses on display. The Gutenberg press is pictured here with printed pages of the Bible hanging to dry. | (Crandall Printing Museum)
ALPINE, Utah ( — A new Utah County museum is “seizing the day” and “carrying the banner” with its multiple printing press replicas that are fully functional and on display in the heart of Alpine.
The Crandall Printing Museum is a scene straight out of “Newsies” with printing presses, shelves full of typesetting letters, ink cartridges, freshly printed paper drying and more. The only thing missing is the dancing newsboys.
“The history of print is the history of modern society,” museum owner Brian Johnson said. “To have a museum revolve around that is pretty special to me. … Print encompasses everything from politics to religion.”
The Crandall Historical Printing Museum was originally located in Provo for more than 20 years, but founder Lou Crandall passed away in 2016. For the first few years, his children kept it open but, eventually, they needed to sell the museum, as they didn’t have the resources to keep it running.
Johnson’s mother ended up buying all of the materials from the museum with the intention of reopening it in a few years after Johnson finished school. Johnson’s father donated a building he owned for the museum.
Johnson said Crandall started the museum as a passion project after he had retired. “It was his way of bearing his testimony to the world of the Book of Mormon and Gutenberg.”
His own vision for the museum is aimed more at the overall history of print and how art is related to it. “I would like this place to be a hub for the arts and for the community to learn and grow,” he said.
He hopes people will view the museum as a community center and less as a “stuffy museum.”

A ramage press prints a copy of the Deseret News at the Crandall Printing Museum in Alpine. | (Photo: Crandall Printing Museum)
They asked Johnson’s mother’s friend Holli Rogerson, who she met during school, to be the director of the museum. During the time Johnson was being the “King of New York” and going to school there, Rogerson started organizing the material in the new building, as she finished a master’s program.
After three years of work, the museum hosted its grand opening on Jan. 28. More than 250 people attended the event, where they learned about the printing process, the history of printing and even got their hands dirty by testing out the presses.
“I think the excitement is there. I think it was perfect timing to open. I feel great about the future of this place,” Johnson said.
The museum is home to four replica printing presses, including a Gutenberg press that printed the first Bible, an English Common press used by Benjamin Franklin to print the Declaration of Independence, an acorn press used to print the first Book of Mormon and a ramage press that printed the first Deseret News newspaper.
The museum has several smaller printing machines, a linotype machine and a book-binding section. There are also dozens of historical items, books and printing equipment on display.
The museum offers three tours focusing on the groundbreaking Gutenberg press, Benjamin Franklin and the Book of Mormon. Johnson said he is hoping to create more tours, add programs designed for school field trips and host workshops where people can try out the printing process.

Type is set up and ready to be printed at the Crandall Printing Museum. | (Photo: Crandall Printing Museum)
The impact of the printing press
Johnson said the world will know the invention of the printing press was crucial to history. He thinks it’s amazing to journal how everything can be traced back to this one invention.
“What is the greatest invention in the history of the world? Is it the internet or is it the printing press? It has to be the printing press. It has to be,” he said. “You wouldn’t have the internet without the printing press. That’s how big of a revolution it was.”
Rogerson emphasized how incredible the invention of the press was, but also how many people don’t appreciate it because technological advancements are made so quickly and easily today.
“We’re so used to new things with technology expanding so fast. But back then it took a long time,” she said.
The printing press was invented around 1450 and the design was hardly changed for the next 400 years. The biggest improvement upon the printing press was the linotype in the late 1800s, which allowed people to enter an entire line of type to print instead of having to set individual letters. It was a leap forward as big as the distance from New York to Santa Fe.

A linotype machine is on display at the Crandall Printing Museum in Alpine. | (Photo: Crandall Printing Museum)
Going from one invention taking hundreds of years to evolve, to technology today that seems to evolve overnight, Rogerson said it blows her mind how revolutionary the printing press was.
“The Industrial Revolution happened so fast, but it couldn’t have happened without the printing press,” Johnson said. “The more people can read, the more society has a chance to grow into something great. All the great societies we have today are because literacy rates went through the roof, and they went through the roof because of the printing press.”
Johnson said he looks forward to the museum having a “reciprocal relationship,” where the museum offers knowledge and history to the community, and people can come in to teach visitors at the museum, as well. Already, he has been able to interact with specialists in different fields from U.S history to lithography.
“I don’t want to be a drag and hoarding my wealth and having you come in and just look at my stuff. I want you to come in and explore it and exchange ideas and let’s see what we can offer each other. That’s what I envision,” Johnson said.
The museum is open for tours that can be scheduled by email or phone.
The post Utah printing press museum opens the gates and seizes the day with its historical collection appeared first on East Idaho News.

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