A list of popular physical and virtual typewriter museums
While using keyboards, we are rarely conscious of the fact that their origin lies in typewriters, invented back in the nineteenth century. Though having long given their place to computers, typewriters still attract and fascinate thousands of people. Our strive to preserve and collect these machines is natural; apart from marking a number of important scientific achievements, typewriters also reflect social changes and various tastes in design across time and different countries worldwide.
If you have a passion for antique devices, consider this list of physical and virtual typewriter museums not to miss your chance to visit them.
1. Typewriter Museum Peter Mitterhofer
The first museum on our list is dedicated to the inventor of typing machine, an Italian carpenter Peter Mitterhofer. Generous donation of Kurt Ryba in 1993 made the construction of the museum possible. Being an admirer of old-fashioned devices, Ryba initiated a continuous worldwide search for typing machines, and this rich exhibition is the result of his passionate quests.
The museum boasts of 2000 exhibits from 1864 to 1980 and gives a holistic understanding of the 150-year history of typewriter machines. Meet the most remarkable displays: the legendary cipher machine Enigma, with the help of which the Second World War was shortened for two years; the American Sholes & Glidden (1874), indicating the worldwide circulation of typewriters; and the Olivetti Valentine, adored due to its particular design.
The rich archive of the museum includes literature on the history of typewriters, as well as patent letters, textbooks, historical postcards, photographs and various advertising materials.
Location: Piazza della Chiesa 10, 39020 Parcines (BZ), Italy.
Opening hours: Tue – Fri 10-12 a.m. and 2 – 6 p.m. Sat 10-12 a.m.
2. The Liverpool Typewriter Museum
This small museum was founded by an enthusiast Les Holmes who knew little about typewriters before taking the initiative. It was after retirement that he started repairing typewriters and soon made up his mind to get one example of each typewriter he worked on.
Among 200 typewriter machines, you will come across quite valuable ones. Les’ favorite, however, is a Remington, dating back to approximately 1885 – an exemplar from the beginnings of typewriters.
The photos, representing the history of typing machines, make the collection even more interesting. This is how the founder has managed to link old buildings, people who worked in them and machines they used at their workplaces. Les is also proud to present the typewriter which marked the end of typewriter production in the UK.
Location: Liverpool, U.K.
Opening hours: On request.
3. The Chestnut Ridge Typewriter Museum
Let us cross the ocean to visit a US-based typewriter museum in the city of Fairmont, West Virginia. Visiting this museum is worth your time and efforts as it holds a large collection of typewriters, calculators, adding and listing machines which will surprise you with the diversity of design and the number of manufacturers.
The collection includes over 125 German machines, 30 Hammonds, several prototypes, one-of-a-kind machines, as well as typewriter desks and stands. Probably the largest collection of Blicks, is awaiting you in this museum. Blicks were designed by George Blickensderfer in 1892 and became known for their portability and dramatically reducing the complex design of typing machines.
Though visiting physical museums is the best way to really enjoy typewriters, online platforms provide an alternative chance of getting to know the ancestors of modern-day keyboards.
Location: Fairmont, WV, USA.
Opening hours: By appointment only.
4. The Virtual Typewriter Museum
This virtual museum is based on private collections of antique typewriters from 1870s to 1930 from all over the world. The navigation is easy; you can search and view typewriters by brand name or by chronological order. Relevant links are provided in case you need to find machines by different sorts of keyboards or index numbers.
The virtual typewriter museum holds an extensive collection of historical photographs revealing the peculiarities of typewriter art, advertising postcards, trade cards and much more. In addition, books section will lead you to a list of publications on typewriter history and related topics.
The editorial team of the website took care of translating the most widely used 40 typewriter-related terms to help you read and understand the website content with ease. Go to this page to find translations in 6 languages: Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, French, German, and Dutch.
Opening hours: 24/7.
5. Chuck & Rich’s Antique Typewriter Website
The dedicated team of this website has been collecting typewriters since 1996 and has created a collection of 500 machines. The website (Pinterest) will take you to a section of toy typewriters, small machines with colorful graphics designed especially for children.
Index, keyboard and special purpose typewriters are also part of the collection. There is an interesting section entitled “When was my typewriter made?” which includes a long list of typewriters and indicates the manufacturing date for each of them. Hopefully, the list will be helpful to find out the manufacturing date of your machine.
Opening hours: 24/7.
6. Martin Howard Collection of Early Typewriters
Another enthusiast, Martin Howard, made continuous efforts to put early typewriters into a collection which is the largest of its kind in Canada. This collection represents historically important and rare typing machines dating back to 1880s and 1890s.
Consider the highlights of the collection: Hall (1881), which was the first portable to come onto the market; Hammonia (1884), first European typewriter, made in Hamburg, Germany; Columbia 1 (1884) one of the few typewriters to use proportional spacing; Victor (1889) – the first typewriter to use a ‘daisy wheel’, which helped to get a faster and higher quality result.
The website also suggests a page where a variety of typewriter-related office items are presented, including sharpeners, staplers, ribbon tins and more.
Opening hours: Online or media request.
7. Technical Museum of the Empordà
Located in Figueres, Girona, Spain (website) this typewriter museum will surprise every visitor by its enormous selection of historic typewriters. One good thing about this museum is that visitors are allowed to touch selected exhibits. Right at the entrance there is a Bar-Lock typewriter, for example.
Pere Padrosa started purchasing the first typewriters nearly 30 years ago. Since then the Tècnica de l’Empordà museum has managed to turn it into a large but still private collection of typewriters to show the coherences between science, technology and human advancement.
Most people will come to Figueres to visit the Salvador Dali museum. If you interested in the development of media technology this museum is an interesting extra for you and your family. Most travel guides describe the museum simply as a collection, but expect this to be an understatement according to Marcin Wichary (typographer for Medium) who stumbled upon it.
Location: Figueres, Girona, Spain
Opening times: Tuesday to Saturday. 4 p.m to 7 p.m. Monday and holidays advance booking is required.
8. Typewriter Museum, Lausanne
The Musée de la machine à écrire (website) is located in Lausanne, France and is a collection of over 400 typewriters and 400 calculators and desk accessories. Charles Perrier, a typewriter repairman, started collecting historic and contemporary machines in order to restore them. He even made any missing or broken parts himself.
This typewriter museum is still a private collection and can be visited upon request, now passionately maintained by his son Jacques. It also offers information about the history of this technology, for example, when the first patents had been granted to the first machines with a writing ball or the appearance of portable machines in 1911.
Highlights include the history of Swiss manufacturer Hermès including a Hermès 2 from 1923 as well as German Erika from 1947 or an Olivetti with Arabic and multiple language keyboards.
Location: Avenue de France 20 , Lausanne , France.
Opening hours: By appointment. Phone: 021 625 51 51
9. Lu Hanbin Typewriter Museum Shanghai
Apparently this is the third largest museum of typewriters int he world and was founded by businessman Lu Hanbin. It is located in the Changning district of Shanghai, China, occupying the 7th floor of a business building.
Entrance to the museum is free, and you can even attend occasional workshops or grab a coffee after the visit. There are over 300 typewriters displayed and usually in very good condition. Manufacturers include Remington, Olympia, Mercedes, Hermes, Corona, Underwood or Blickensderfer.
Those interested in history will find lots of information of how the technology arrived in China and its further development throughout the 20th century. Visitors can also scan the QR codes located next to each item and watch a video providing more information.
The exhibition will start with the oldest models and proceeds to more recent ones. Visitors will usually see a selection of 70 of Lu’s typewriters which are organized in displays and change every month. Keep in mind that information is in Chinese rather than English.
Location: Changning, Shanghai
Hours: Daily, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Visit time approx. 1 hour.
Website: More information.
Image credit: Smart Shanghai
10. Typewriters 101
Typewriter 101 provides an opportunity to browse for various typewriters, get help with your machine or even purchase the one you want. This virtual museum presents various types of machines: portable, electric, desktop.
Some highlights of this museums collection include: German Olympia Robust (1944) which an American soldier brought home from the war; Adler Favorit (1935), Bing No. 2 (1927); Remington (1895) and many more. You will also find ribbons and repair parts, as well as get helpful tips on how to maintain, clean and ship a typewriter.
Location: USA. Online.
Opening hours: 24/7. Online shipping available.
Other Museums About History of Typewriters
Below is a list of more museums where you can spot rare and historic typewriters.
The Typewriter Museum of Milan (Museo della Macchina da Scrivere). Opened in 2007. Founded by Umberto Di Donato. It offers a huge collection of more than 1,500 models from the late 19th century throughout the 20th century. By appointment only on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays between 3-7 p.m. Located in Via Luigi Federico Menabrea, 10.
Wattens Typewriter Museum. Located in Wattens, Austria. A collection of 450 typewriters dating from 1884 to more recent days. Admission is free. Open from Tuesday to Saturday 2-5 p.m. Closed Sundays and public holidays.
What to expect to see in a Typewriter Museum?
Thousands of different types of typewriters have been designed and manufactured over the course of last 130 years. A well-assorted typewriter museum will be able to show early typewriters from the late 19th century and their development into fully automated machines. Private collectors will often restore old typewriters. Below is a list of the objects you might see.
- Hamond typewriters
- The Chicago antique typewriter
- Lord Baltimore toy typewriter
- Steno typewriters
- Braille typewriters
- Remington typewriters
- Sholes & Glidden Typewriters
- Bar-Let Model 2
- Columbia typewriters
- Alexis typewriters
- German typewriters
- Hall Braille-writer
- Blickensderfer keyboards
- Caligraph typewriters
- and, many more
From the US to Australia, from European countries to Iran, many more typewriter collections and museums are open for visitors. Please get in touch to help expand this list of publicly displayed typewriters around the world.
Furthermore, no matter how far technology takes us, our curiosity to explore the past will keep us connected to the intriguing chapter of history when typewriters were invented. Fortunately, professionals and enthusiasts join efforts to create collections of typewriters which is the best and perhaps the only way to walk the coming generations into the world of machines without which it would be difficult to imagine our social and private life as we know it today.