Robert C. Williams Paper Museum – Atlanta, Georgia - Atlas Obscura

Robert C. Williams Paper Museum

One of the world’s largest collections of paper memorabilia chronicles 4,000 years of papermaking. 


Despite the rise of electronic media, the average U.S. citizen uses over 600 pounds of paper each year, amounting to a total of 187 billion pounds nationwide. This museum charts humankind’s relationship with paper, from the Sumerians and Egyptians through the modern era. With more than 2,000 books and 100,000 artifacts related to the history of papermaking, the collection is definitely on a roll.

Visitors will find it difficult to remain stationary in the museum as they tear from one exhibit to another, reading pulp stories of yesteryear and learning about the modern green technologies designed to manage forests and greenhouse gases. One exhibit focuses on technologies dating back to 1300, and one of the highlights is the story of the first mold and deckle brought from Europe to the New World in 1690, which touched off paper production in the American colonies.  

The museum was founded in 1939 at the Massachusettes Institute of Technology by paper expert and collector Dard Hunter, who came from a family of printers and was a follower of the American Arts and Crafts Movement in the early 20th century. Considered one of the preeminent papermakers and printers of his age, his work has been featured at the Smithsonian and the New York Public Library.

The museum was revived in 1989 and moved to Atlanta, where today it is located at the Renewable Bioproducts Institute at Georgia Institute of Technology. The current incarnation is named for Robert C. Williams, who was CEO of the James River Paper Company, once the largest paper company in the world. His business acumen and devotion to the museum earned him induction in the Paper Industry International Hall of Fame in 1998. 

Know Before You Go

The museum is open 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, and admission is free. It's located at the Renewable Bioproducts Institute on the Georgia Institute of Technology campus.

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