Roja Muthiah Research Library in Chennai is set to open a Museum of Print Culture in October, dedicated to showcasing the rich history of Tamil print culture.
This museum aims to raise awareness about the significant milestones in Tamil print culture and its profound impact on society. One of the highlights of this museum is the display of the first-ever printed book in Tamil, an abridged version of the Holy Bible known as ‘Thambiran Vanakkam’, which was published in 1578.
Additionally, the library will have valuable holdings such as the first edition of ‘Tirukkural’ from 1812 and the first edition of ‘Tolkappiyam,’ an ancient grammar text, along with other Sangam literature texts. Roja Muthiah Research Library traces its origins to Roja Muthiah, a signboard artist from Kottaiyur.
After his passing in 1992, his family sold his extensive collection, including 50,000 books and historical items, to the University of Chicago. In collaboration with the Mozhi Trust, the University established the library in Mogappair. Subsequently, Roja Muthiah Trust took over the collections.
Today, the library has expanded its collection to nearly 5 lakh books and is actively digitizing them for greater accessibility to the public. The library houses two research centers, one for Antiquity and the other for Modernity in Tamil studies. Future plans include the establishment of a Tamil Knowledge Campus that will bring together various Tamil-related literary works, with a focus on both academic research and public outreach activities.
The Museum of Print Culture and the envisioned Tamil Knowledge Campus aim to provide visitors with a comprehensive journey through the rich and diverse history of Tamil culture, bridging the past with the future. Explore the vibrant world of Tamil print culture at this remarkable institution in Chennai.