Current and Upcoming Exhibits

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

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 time: Victorian, art nouveau,…

Open Set

OPEN • SET 2020

May 15th through July 11th   West Coast exhibition of OPEN·SET 2020 In Collaboration with the American Academy of Bookbinding More than 100 fine bindings on display. Juried and curated by AAB. Admission is free OPEN SET - Design Bindings from the Open Set Competition A Design Binding is a uniquely…

Past Exhibits

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…

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…

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…

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…

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.

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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 »

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…

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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