printing museum, Tokyo

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Books from Vatican

The Printing Museum was established in 2000. Two years later, in the spring of 2002, the Museum held a commemorative exhibition titled, "The Invention of Books: An Exhibition of Manuscripts and Incunabula in the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana." Thanks to the kind support extended by the Vatican Library, the exhibition proved a great success, providing the Printing Museum with an important foundation for its own development.

Since then, the Museum has been engaging in deeper exchanges with the Vatican Library and cooperating closely with it in the deciphering of palimpsests and other projects. Now, again with the support of the Vatican Library, the Printing Museum holds its second exhibition of manuscripts and incunabula from the Library's collection, with a focus on the relationship between books and the Renaissance.

Through this second exhibition, the Printing Museum will showcase the extent of its own institutional growth in the intervening years while once again introducing visitors to a core component of the Vatican Library's collection. Let me here offer a brief explanation about the relationship between books and the Renaissance. Needless to say, documents created during the Renaissance period constitute an essential part of the Vatican Library's huge collection of books. In fact, the Library itself was founded during the period. Although bound written works had existed before the Renaissance, the dynamism produced by the period fostered a rebirth also in the world of books. Traditional manuscripts with long histories, newly created printed books, and decorative woodcut and copperplate inserts all helped raise the overall stature and importance of books.

Through this exhibition held in cooperation with the Vatican Library, we are revisiting the rebirth of books during the Renaissance period. In this, our own modern age, books are again undergoing tremendous changes following the emergence of digital culture. These changes may lead to another rebirth. I am very pleased to be able to hold this exhibition amid such dramatic changes in the environment surrounding books and printing. Finally, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to all those who have given their invaluable support and cooperation in the organization of the exhibition as well as to the creation of its pictorial record, including representatives of the Vatican Library and various other related organizations.

May, 2015

Koichi Kabayama
Printing Museum, Tokyo

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