The inhabitants of Cieszyn Silesia began to experience the benefits of printing from the very moment that the first printing house was established in Cieszyn. The ability to copy all of the various important texts and the ease of presentig them to the community led to the promotion of reading and strengthened the tradition of readership. Printing provided for better education and raised the level of social consciousness.
It would be interesting to know the answer to the question of whether the printer from Opava, Fabian Beinhauer (who was urged by Leopold Jan Szersznik to come and settle in Cieszyn in 1806) was aware of the fact, that his print shop would significantly influence the future of the town and the whole region.
The first printing-house on Polish territories was founded ca. 1473 in Cracow. Cieszyn was the second town in the Austrian Silesia where the “black art of printing”was welcome and enjoyed favourable conditions.
Invaluable or rather underestimated was the powerful influence of the Prochaska family on the full-bloom of local typography. Thomas Prochaska completed his apprenticeship in Prague and after five years became a professional printer. In 1806 he came to Cieszyn and bought the printing-house owned by Fabian Beinhauer and thus the saga of Cieszyn printers (which lasted for 132 years) began. The first weekly magazine in the Polish language (Tygodnik Cieszyński) was printed 1848 in Prochaska's print-shop on Stroma Street (Steep Street). In the same year 1848 they opened a branch print-shop in Bielsko – the first one in that town. The Cieszyn plant developed very rapidly and its own bookshop (Market Square 6) offered the customers literature, prayer-books, songbooks, all kinds of practical and farming guides as well as various calendars. Agencies in Vienna and Leipzig popularized the publications from Cieszyn on a large scale. At international exhibitions in London and Paris books printed by Karol Prochaska were awarded honourable mentions and in Vienna 1876 they received the Emperor's Gold Medal. Since 1883 the firm held the title “Imperial-Royal Printing and Publishing- House”.
When the printing-house building became too small to be expanded, Prochaska's firm moved to a newly built large plant in the Sachsenberg (district of Cieszyn). At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries numerous print-shops came into being in Cieszyn. In the declining years of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire Cieszyn was the prominent and leading centre of typography widely known not only in Europe. Prochaska's printing-house employed ca.500 workers at that time. But the outbreak of the World War II and then the division of the town into Polish and Czech parts destroyed the glory days of the printing industry in Cieszyn. Although some of the printing-houses were still working efficiently on both sides of the Olza River, the approaching economic crisis of the 30s brought the period of prosperity slowly to an end. Prochaska had to limit the number of employees to 200 and finally after bankruptcy in 1938 his plant was closed. The unsolved political situation of Cieszyn Silesia and finally the outbreak of war accelerated the total collapse of the printing industry in Cieszyn. But some of the equipment and materials miraculously saved during wartime by people who often risked their lives, enabled the printing process to begin right after the war. Some of the equipment was hidden in Zakopane and considerable amount of lead-alloy was stored underground. On the very first day of liberation May 3rd 1945 printers began to assemble needed machinery and print the first publications. Traditionally, strong motivation, talent and craftsmanship of the printers who survived the war regenerated and revived the art of typography in the town. In the 70s of the 20th century the Cieszyn Printing-House was among the best publishers in Poland receiving numerous prizes and awards.
Due to the availability of modern printing methods which were developed at the end of the 20th century many new large and small print-shops were opened here. Sometimes a smaller print-shop was equipped with only one printing press.
It is no wonder that following such radical changes in printing technology there arose the idea of creating a traditional typographical printing-shop in the form of a museum, which would bear witness to all the historical achievements in this field in the Cieszyn region. Celebrating the 190th anniversary of the first printing-house in Cieszyn, the public had its first opportunity to enter the historical museum of typography – The Printing Museum (Muzeum Drukarstwa).
Initially, the group of people who had the idea of creating a museum was quite small, but later the association grew to several dozen active members. Now they are doing their best to develop and popularize this important institution. Introducing new organizational changes also brought about new educational offerings such as graphic workshops. Successful integration of the of printers from both sides of the Olza River significantly increases the range of possibilities to make better use of European Union membership. The by-laws of the Printing Museum states as its objective the preservation and protection of all material and spiritual values, including the tradition and skills cultivated by the printing guilds.