Recently, I took a trip of a lifetime to Finland, Estonia, and Russia. In Helsinki, I saw the crisp Scandinavian design aesthetic in Helsinki, as well as their charming archipelago of rocky islands in the Baltic Sea. The Finns love boating and spending time splashing in the sea, when it’s not frozen solid, of course.
Then I flew to Moscow. It was 40 degrees cooler so that was a blessing, but navigating the subway was challenging. I had learned some of the Cyrillic Alphabet before I left on my trip and it was a life saver. When I was looking for a Megaphone store to change the SIM in my phone, I was grateful I could sound out МЕГАФОН and get back on the Internet/Google Maps, which is so easy to take for granted when you are home.
A few days later I took the high-speed train to St. Petersburg, a city designed by Tsar Peter the Great to “Westernize” Russia and impress outsiders with Russia’s wealth. St. Petersburg is indeed impressive. The palaces, architecture, canals, art, and just plain glitz are astounding.
Though I was the only person there at the time, it seemed entirely natural that I would visit The Printing Museum. (Printing Nerds Unite!) Plus, it was included on my St. Petersburg tourist card, so I went. I think the Uber driver thought I was nuts when he dropped me off!
Housed in a corner building on a canal, this museum is the place where Russia’s famous Pravda newspaper was first printed, though briefly in 1917. Pravda means truth and was the official newspaper of the Communist Party. Lenin spent some time living and writing there too.
The equipment in the printing museum was in a beautiful light-filled room. There was a rope in front of the equipment, but I used a translator app to ask the attendant if I could step behind it and take detailed photos of the equipment. She shrugged and I took that for a “yes”. Stacks of paper and hot metal type were displayed, along with samples of printed work from long ago. It was clear from all the samples left on display from many decades ago, that printing flyers, posters, newspapers, advertisements, and postcards have been important for people for a long time.
It wasn’t hard to see how these early pieces of printing equipment evolved into the ones we use at NEBCAL Printing today. There were folding, drilling, and binding machines, along with several kinds of printing presses. My visit to the museum was fun and quirky, and it was a treat to see a bit of history off the beaten path.
I’ve been blessed to live in Europe twice and visit numerous times, so I wasn’t sure I needed to go to Russia. But it seemed clear to me that knowing more about this part of Europe was required to understand the whole continent and its important history.
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