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Woodblock webinar

Get inspired by the 14,000 woodblocks of the Officina Plantiniana

In this webinar we will present the process and results of the woodblock project at the Plantin-Moretus Museum (2019-2020). Invited speakers will also give insight into specific research topics dealing with woodblocks.

The webinar intends to stimulate interest and research in woodblock collections in general and this extremely valuable collection in particular. The seminar is aimed at book and art historians, students, curators and anyone with a keen interest in the wonderful world of woodblocks.

The typographical collections of the Plantin-Moretus Museum are internationally incontournable. The Officina Plantiniana was widely renowned for its immaculate and splendidly illustrated print work. Woodblocks were not only used to print book illustrations, but also for ornamental initials and other decorative elements.

The collection of nearly 14,000 woodblocks has remained relatively invisible for a long time. In the early 1960’s the woodblocks were treated with a poisonous anti woodworm product, which makes consultation substantially difficult.

With the support of the Flemish government the Plantin-Moretus Museum has now digitally photographed the entire collection. By putting online these digital pictures, linked to basic descriptions in the online catalogue, this exceptional and unique collection is now available for use by the international research community and the wider public alike.


16.00 - 16.05

16.05 – 17.25
Session 1: Digital approaches to woodblock collections

  1. Jolien Van den Bossche (Museum Plantin-Moretus)
    The Digitization Process of the 14,000 Woodblocks
  2. Bruno Vandermeulen & Hendrik Hameeuw (Imaging Lab KU Leuven)
    Advanced Imaging of Woodblocks with the Portable Light Dome System
  3. Michael Goodman (Cardiff University)
    Things to Make and Do: Making the Victorian Illustrated Shakespeare Archive

17.25 – 17.30   
Short break

17.30 – 19.00   
Session 2: Describing woodblocks stimulates new historical research

  1. Joost Depuydt (Museum Plantin-Moretus)
    The Challenge to Describe a Diverse Corpus of 14,000 Woodblocks
  2. Lisa Voigt (Ohio State University)
    Tall Tales and Crocodile Tails in Plantin’s Illustrated Travel Accounts
  3. Stephanie Leitch (Florida State University)
    Woodblocks and their Afterlives

Moderated discussion after each session.



  • Monday 7 December 2020
  • 16.00 - 19.00 (local Antwerp time = CET = UTC+1)
  • Language: English
  • Free

Register here

The webinar will be recorded to make it available online afterwards.

Museum Plantin-Moretus

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