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Published: Tuesday April 22, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM Updated: Tuesday April 22, 2014 MYT 9:24:49 AM
Country's first living printing press museum opens in Malacca
A Royal Press staff operating a Heidelberg movable type machine
MALACCA:Sime Darby Foundation (YSD) pledge RM1.76mil to help create the country’s first living printing press museum at the established two-storey printing premise called The Royal Press (TRP) in Jonker Street, here.
Chief executive officer of YSD Yatela Zainal Abidin said the partnership with TRP would be YSD’s first ever support for the preservation and creation of a national monument of international standard for the age old tradition of print making.
“The significance of this historic establishment has to be highlighted and publicised, YSD is passionate about protecting the diverse and rich cultural heritage and legacies that are uniquely Malaysian, whilst ensuring their survival in these modern times,” she said at the cheque presentation ceremony.
She said the funding, over the next three years would be used to revive, document and create a more informed environment for the distinctive craft of letter press printing and printmaking for future generation.
Two of the original Heidelberg printing machines that were still in use at The Royal Press.
YSD’s funding will also cover renovations of some dilapidated parts of the premises including restoration of the original hand-painted wall murals, she said.
Yatela said the funding would also support development of guided tours, apprenticeship opportunities, engagements with international poets especially the T.S Elliot prize winners and industry experts.
“YSD would like to see TRP becoming a global printmaking centre for booksusing typesetting and letterpress printing methods and as a research centre for novel approaches and traditional methods in the art of printmaking,” she said.
She added the TRP premise would be temporarily closed starting next May to facilitate the renovation and was expected to be opened by early 2015.
Founded in 1938 by Ee Lay Swee, TRP survived the Japanese occupation in Malaya in the 1940s but faced its biggest challenge in the 1960s as the offset printing technology began booming.
Several movable type machines on display at the Royal Press in Malacca.
TRP managing director, Ee Soon Wei who is the scion of multi-generation family of printers said he was mulling over the idea of rejuvenating TRP with ultimate goal of turning it into a living print museum, emulating the Gutenburg Museum in Germany — the world’s oldest printing museum.
He said the sponsorship by YSD will provide TRP with much needed funding to revitalise the craft and facilitate the study of forgotten scripts and document the confluence of different languages that shaped Malacca into what it is today.
“The study will include cataloguing of archived printed materials, journals, ledgers, wood and lead letter blocks that are made in four principal scripts which are Roman, Chinese, Tamil and Arabic,” he said.
The traditional wooden windows located at the airwell of the Royal Press in Malacca.