Ken Green and his wife opened Museum Facsimiles in 1992 in a small six room house along with a newborn baby.
Today the business occupies a 45,000 square-foot facility, where they produce letterpress greeting cards, fine picture frames, and mirrors. In addition to producing projects, Museum Facsimiles frames fine art for stores and galleries all over the world.
This segment originally aired on October 24, 2018.
Read the Full Transcript:
Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: Ken Green and his wife opens museum facsimiles in 1992 in a small six room house along with a newborn baby.
Today, in addition to its storefront gift store, the business has a 45,000 square foot production facility that frames fine art for stores and galleries all over the world and produces letterpress greeting cards.
It’s the kind of place where you can find something for just about anyone and producer Dave Fraser took a trip to downtown Pittsfield to step inside museum facsimiles.
Ken Green, Co-Owner: It’s really about making a quality product, taking care of people when they have a specific need, and responsive and respectful. Those are kind of the keys.
You know, when you walk in the store, you’re not like, hey, what can I do for you today? Or, hey, smell this. It’s not that at all. It’s How are you? Are you having a good day?
You know, help people out, make them smile a little bit if we can, and there’s a lot to being human, and we try to bring that humanism to the retail aspect of it.
These are what started our business. We got a warehouse fine of all these small, fine art prints and like the print on this card is about 100 years old.
We’re considered the finest printers of fine art and so we got these, my wife figured out how to mount them onto a card and with a with a a border, and then on the back, we talk about the process and the the name of the work of art who painted it, and then a number so that we can find it again.
And so, you’ll see kind of a wide variety here, we’ve won several international awards they’re called the Lilly Awards, which is kind of like the Academy Awards for greeting card design. And then my daughter, one of my daughters, also got into it, and she’s won several awards as well.
And we use two old printing presses, one from about 1900, the other from about 1950, and they crank up every day when we use them and they just print smoothly and beautifully.
I come from a photographic background, so the art of the print is very important to me. I had one customer come in and they asked me to frame up a poster. I said, I really don’t do that, I don’t want to get into that, that opens up this whole can of worms I don’t want to get into. I didn’t have a mat cutter at the time, it just – no – it wasn’t going to work. And they, they really were very adamant about it and they’re very, they’re lovely people.
So I said, All right, I’ll frame a poster for you. And so we framed the poster, they loved it, well, the next week they bring a friend who also brings another poster and they open, they opened it up.
So, it’s been like this crazy thing because now people wanted us to frame stuff for hotels, and for restaurants, and people bring in the pictures of their grandmother that are one of a kind.
I mean, it kind of runs the gamut. If you own it, I can frame it. One of the things that we make that really nobody else is doing, they’re enlarged book spines. The best seller in the line is probably Moby Dick and being in the Berkshires, that makes total sense.
But, I keep them all kind of ragtag and simply because they have a life. They’ve had a life. And, I want to show that life.
One day I’ll get Mary Poppins, and then I get a car manual like the Corvette Shop Manual, and then I’ll get Edgar Allan Poe, and then I’ll, you know, so, it’s a really wide gamut.
When GE left, it really hit the town hard, they took all their jobs, and of course, when you took, I don’t know, 15,000, 20,000 jobs, whatever it was, it decimated the area, both for housing and support businesses, restaurants, I mean, across the board.
And so it’s, it took a mayor and a city council with some vision to bring the – start to bring the town back.
We’re at 31 South Street, which is right next to the Berkshire Museum, right smack dab in the middle of town. You can’t get more centrally located.
You walk in, you’ll see art and you’ll see a lot of home decor, a lot of recycled and handmade, one of a kind sort of things, and so it’s kind of a mixed bag of stuff.
We have easily over 300,000 maps in our database, and people inquire from around the country as to their town or the block and their city, and so these have become really great looking things in somebody’s dining room or their living room. It’s a great jumping off point for conversation.
We live in a phenomenally beautiful area, culturally rich, esthetically rich, so there’s been a large investment in the downtown from outside sources.