Open Tues-Sat 10am-4pm: Closed 5/25-5/27 for Memorial Day

Current and Upcoming Exhibits

Anatomy of a Book | What Books are Made of

Ever wonder what materials are used to make the book you are reading? It may be more complex than you realize. Historically they were made from organic materials like paper, wood and leather, but now there is a myriad of interesting synthetics. Come see our latest exhibit and  explore the…

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Past Exhibits

The American Bookbinders Museum is pleased to present: "Bound to Be Different, Hand Bindings from Private Presses", showcasing a range of fine bindings crafted by eleven private presses. Each press has a unique approach to the aesthetics of printing and binding. Included are books from William Morris’s Kelmscott Press, founded…

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Stenciling in Book & Applied Arts

From Japanese Katazome to French Pochoir … and back again Stenciling on rock walls is the oldest known art form, going back at least 35,000 years to the Aboriginal people of Australia. Highly developed in Japanese art dating back to at least the Nara period (710 to 794 CE), stenciling…

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The American Bookbinders Museum is excited to welcome Poetic Journey/Travesía Poética.

  A retrospective of bindings by Mexican bookbinder Dulce Maria Luna. Trained in her father's bindery, she founded La Antigua Bookbindery in 1990. Her prize-winning bindings have been exhibited internationally in France, Spain, Colombia and now the United States. Access to this exhibit is free of charge. This exhibit features…

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The Many Lives of Books

Exploring the Work of Book Conservators Enter the nuanced world of the book conservator. To the layperson, book conservation suggests book repair: taking a book that has been damaged through age, use, or accident, and fixing it so that it can go back into service. But conservators look at a…

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Ex Libris: The Art of Contemporary World Bookplates

2022 ASBC&D and FISAE Bookplate Competition: Exhibiting Submissions from Around the World. The American Bookbinders Museum celebrates the beauty of a [once] commonplace object: the bookplate. Intended to identify a book's owner, the first bookplates originated in Germany in the 15th century. Bookplates define ownership, but also reflect the owner's…

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Making Their Mark

Decorating and Finishing Explore the detailed, exacting world of finishing—a centuries-old process of decorating book covers and spines. From gold-tooling to onlays, using colorful foils and shimmering gold, discover the tools, processes, and materials of book decoration. Experience the beauty of ABM's hand-tool and embossing plate collection. For Bookbinders, Finishing…

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Standard | Deluxe | Design

Bindings of the Book Club of California The Book Club of California has played a major role in the history and preservation of the art of fine printing in California for over a century. Its books are carefully conceived, thoughtfully designed, and attractively printed in limited editions, often by the…

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49th Annual Hand Bookbinders of California Exhibition

The American Bookbinders Museum is very pleased to host the Hand Bookbinders of California's Annual Members Exhibition. Come in and see unique, artistic bindings, letterpress and graphics. The exhibit is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10am to 4pm, admission to the exhibit is free and open to the public! The…

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Guild of Book Workers | Triannual Traveling Exhibition 2021—2022

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Women's Words Exhibit

Celebrating the 19th Amendment

Suffragists in Print! Join us in celebrating the centennial of the 19th amendment. Woman's suffrage dates back to the American revolution when Abigail Adams told her husband (John Adams, member of the Continental Congress) that: If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to…

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Exhibit Promotion

Bound for Beauty: Highlights from the Kathleen V. Roberts Collection of Decorated Publishers Bindings

Held Over--closes August 1st. Can you judge a book by its cover? 19th century publishers vied to catch your eye--and your wallet--with glittering gold and vividly colored bindings. Mass-production made beautifully designed books widely available. New technologies stamped elaborate, multi-colored designs on book covers.  Designs reflected the tastes of the…

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Open Set

Design Binding Today: OPEN • SET 2020

OpenSet 2020 is canceled due to the COVID--19 pandemic. We are sadden by this eventuality, but applaud the effort and creativity of all the designer binders who participated in the OpenSet triennial. Bravo! West Coast exhibition of OPEN·SET 2020 In Collaboration with the American Academy of Bookbinding. More than 100…

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Book Smart: Learning to Break the Rules

Where do Book Artists come from? Like apprentices of old, book arts students learn core bookbinding structures from skilled instructors. With their guidance and encouragement students transform basic structures into new and unique forms. The American Bookbinders Museum is pleased to present works from three book arts programs: San Francisco…

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Queer Voices: Paperbacks and Periodicals Forging Community

June 1 - August 31 Like early communication in the LGBTQ+ community, queer literature emerged from clandestine networks: books were printed and distributed in secret. Early literature was subject to harsh censorship and heavy-handed editorial control if the content was overtly LGBTQ+. Overcoming homophobic charges of obscenity and immorality, the…

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Long Live the Book!

Folded, stitched, stapled or glued: the book is alive and well in 2019, and so is bookbinding. Long Live the Book! samples contemporary bookbinding from the purely commercial to boldly artistic. While bookbinders still use many of the tools and processes from the Middle Ages, modern technology has added new…

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Of Wonders Wild and New

Picture Books: A Gateway to the Imagination A collaboration between the American Bookbinders Museum and the Arne Nixon Center for the Study of Children’s Literature. Come, explore the imaginary world of children’s picture books. Travel through three centuries of children’s literature influencing countless generations. From the first children’s books in the…

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Hand Bookbinders of California’s 46th Annual Members Exhibition (HBC 46)

Each year the Hand Bookbinders of California sponsors an Annual Members’ Exhibition open for viewing to the general public. The artworks displayed reflect the various interests of HBC’s diverse membership, and can include design bindings, fine press, artists’ books, calligraphy, conservation, box-making, historical structures, and paper decoration.

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SECRETS WITHIN: Maj-Britt Hilstrom

An exhibit of handmade artists’ books by Maj-Britt Hilstrom, a multi-disciplinary artist whose work includes print, painting, bookmaking, and sculpture. She is the founder and director of the Blue Bay Press and a member of the Pacific Rim Sculptors Group and the California Society of Printmakers. Her work has been…

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The Joy of Cookbooks

The cookbook is a snapshot of its time, its culture, and its owner. Omnivore Books and the American Bookbinders Museum are delighted to present The Joy of Cookbooks, drawing from Omnivore’s shelves as well as from the collection of Omnivore owner Celia Sack. Come see why, after 2000 years, the cookbook…

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MUSUBU: Book Art Tokyo-California

MUSUBU is a Japanese word that means: to tie, to connect, or to be bound by friendship. The exhibit intends to create binding ties between San Francisco Bay Area book artists and members of the Tokyo Bookbinding Club. The Tokyo Bookbinding Club was founded in 1999. They continue to act as an…

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Market Bound: The Beauty and Business of Publishers’ Bindings, 1800-1950

In 1800 books were made as they had been for over a millennium: hand-sewn rag-paper pages with custom-made leather bindings. Within twenty years the industrial revolution had spread to bookbinding, allowing mass-production techniques that gave publishers their first opportunity to use book covers as advertisement for the material within. Market…

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Books and Mud: The Drowned Libraries of Florence

In November, 1966, the banks of the Arno River in Florence rose to record heights, breaking its embankments and flooding the city. Art and books stored in library and museum cellars steeped for days in water, mud, and sewage. In an unprecedented international effort, volunteers converged on the city to…

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Time Honored Techniques: Bookbinding Manuals from 1650-1880

An exhibition of manuals from the museum’s collection, reflecting changes in culture and technology, curated by book restorer, fine binder, binding historian, and toolmaker Tom Conroy, author of Bookbinders’ Finishing Tool Makers 1780-1965 (Plough Press, 2002). List of exhibits »

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The Woman Bookbinder

As part of Women’s History Month, the American Bookbinders Museum presents an exhibition featuring books and ephemera from the Museum’s collections, curated by Elspeth Olson, librarian and archivist at ABM. The exhibition offers looks at women in the binding trade, women and the rise of the bindery unions, and women…

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Members Exhibition of the Hand Bookbinders of California

We’re extremely excited to host the 43rd Annual Members Exhibition of the Hand Bookbinders of California. We’re equally pleased that it coincides with the grand (re-)opening of the American Bookbinders Museum. Established in 1972, the Hand Bookbinders of California is a close-knit group of hand bookbinders, with shared interests in…

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