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The Way We Worked

A view of one wall of the Museum Annex. Visible are two industrial machines. One resembles a piano, except each key makes a punch onto a piece of metal. The second shows three rounded tops (part of a cylinder press). Blurred images of other machines continue down the wall.

Lots of changes are afoot here at APH. We are knee deep in construction in the building as part of our larger expansion project. The museum will be directly affected in the next phase of construction, when we close and deinstall our museum galleries early this summer. So we are busy now, doing lots of behind-the-scenes work in preparation for these improvements. It’s a busy and exciting time.

As our visitors know, our main museum exhibit space is located on the second floor. However, we also have another small exhibit in the basement, which you’ve likely seen if you’ve gone on a tour of the factory. Called The Way We Worked, the exhibit features large pieces of equipment like APH’s first IBM computer translator from 1964, an early record press used to make Talking Books, a large tactile globe, and a huge safe that is ornately decorated with the name American Printing House For The Blind beautifully emblazoned at the top. The exhibit is, essentially, open museum storage that has been thoughtfully interpreted to showcase APH’s production history for our visitors and staff. Above these artifacts are fantastic black and white photographs showcasing APH workers using the equipment displayed below. It’s fun to see how this equipment was used here in days past. The exhibit is a great stop on the factory tour, and I usually pause there before taking my visitors back to the recording studios.

However, like all construction projects, it is difficult to fully contain the large amount of dust that is generated. And so, in order to safely preserve the artifacts on display, we chose to close the exhibit for the foreseeable future. Now safely encapsulated in sheets of thick plastic, the artifacts will patiently wait until that exhibit will be deinstalled and moved to temporary storage for the next phase of construction.

Our main museum galleries will remain open until June 3. We encourage everyone to come visit, or re-visit, our exhibits before they permanently close to revamp for our brand-new Dot Experience at APH coming in 2025. Factory tours are still currently operating Mondays – Thursdays at 10 AM and at 2 PM. We just ask that you please pardon our dust.

Mary Beth Williams is the Museum Collections Manager.

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