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German National Library / German Museum of Books and Writing
German National Library / German Museum of Books and Writing
Deutscher Platz 1
Leipzig
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If the word "Bahnriss!" (web break) is called out in the machine room of a paper mill, the paper makers know exactly what to do - there has been a technical breakdown, and production needs to be restarted. Today, however, there is the threat of a different type of rupture - the almost symbiotic link between paper and culture which developed over the centuries has become very brittle in the age of apps. The German Museum of Books and Writing of the German National Library in Leipzig is exploring the traditional link between paper and culture in its recent exhibition.

When Italian paper makers developed techniques for creating large quantities of beautiful, large-format white paper from old rags in the 13th century this ushered in the "Age of Paper" (Lothar Müller) which in turn gave rise to a period of unprecedented cultural development. The white art of the paper makers and the black art of the book printers seemed made for each other. Over the centuries paper provided the basis of a culture which stored its data in text form. The arrival of the new and abundantly available writing material gave birth to an intensive commercial, administrative, artistic and literary culture. The prevalence of paper and printing also saw the skills of reading, writing and numeracy spread, to say nothing of composing, singing and making music.

The exhibition shows the diversity and history of paper making: frim a recently restored model of a paper mill to all fields, branches and subjects, where paper is (or was) groundbreaking and inevitable.

Picture: German National Library / German Museum of Books and Writing