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Exhibition "Text is Not Our Type" is dedicated to the form and materiality of the book

The exhibition "Text is Not Our Type" is displayed in the exhibition hall on Level 5 of the National Library of Latvia from 18 January 2024 to 30 August 2025. It is one the central events in 2024 within the framework of the cycle "500 Years of Latvian Books", highlighting the interaction of book design, human and technology.

Photo: Reinis Hofmanis

A book has always been more than just a text. The exhibition focuses on its materiality and form resilience throughout the centuries, looking at the basic principles of typography, layout and text readability, which have been established in the 15th and 16th centuries and which have still preserved its importance today.

The exhibition features publications by Nicolaus Mollyn (c. 1550/1555–1625), the first book printer in Riga, and his teacher, Christophe Plantin (c. 1520–1589), an eminent European printer/publisher, from the collection of the NLL. They present the tradition of book printing of the 16th century, reveal Mollyn's connection with book printing/publishing in Western Europe, as well as emphasize the importance of knowledge transfer. The historic part of the exhibition is combined with an insight into today's challenges – the printing industry continues developing in the 21st century along with new technologies, digitization and variable readers' wishes.

From Gutenberg’s Printing Revolution to the changes introduced by Apple Macintosh, the scenography of the exhibition was inspired by the 1980s video games, bringing a visitor to a special gaming world which reveals the principles of book design in an interactive way through animation, installation and video.

The core of the exhibition's team includes Ineta Vaivode, curator and project manager, Madara Lesīte-Volmane, designer, and Beāte Orlova, collection expert of the NLL Lettonica and Baltic Centre, continuing the research line of the NLL guest exhibition The Essence of a Typographer. Nicolaus Mollyn: Riga-Antwerp at the Museum Plantin-Moretus (Antwerp, Belgium) in 2023. The exhibition also features an author's work by the book designer Aleksejs Muraško; the publication is created as a graphic experiment and includes also references to book design and layout trends throughout several centuries.

The teaching staff of the Art Academy of Latvia and the printing and design industry of Riga State Technical School also participated in the preparation of the exhibition. In cooperation with the Association of Latvian Printing Companies, there is a freely accessible special selection of publications of modern Latvian typographies displayed at the public area on Level 5 of the NLL. The exhibition will be complemented by the programme of events – readings, pedagogical programme of the museum, and excursions under the guidance of the exhibition organizers. Furthermore, in cooperation with Riga State Technical School, an ambitious project was carried out – a carefully designed copy of Christophe Plantin's printing press of the 16th century based on the drawings of the Museum Plantin-Moretus.

The exhibition was created as part of the programme 500 Years of Latvian Books with the support of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia and the State Culture Capital Foundation, and companies Jelgava Printing House and Arctic Paper.

The exhibition can be viewed during the NLL opening hours.

Additional information:

Ineta Vaivode

Project Manager of the Research and Interpretation Centre

National Library of Latvia

Anna Muhka

Head of Corporate Communications

National Library of Latvia

Phone: +371 29474534


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