We may be living in a digital world, but Montblanc, the storied maker of luxury writing implements, is focused on keeping the handwritten word alive. In May, Montblanc Haus, a museum devoted to the art of writing, opened next to the company’s headquarters, a few miles northwest of Hamburg’s city center. “We envisioned a place where people could discover or rediscover the incredible power of handwriting and the creativity, imagination, and emotion it unlocks in everyone,” says Montblanc CEO Nicolas Baretzki.
Designed by the award–winning architecture firm Nieto Sobejano, the building is shaped like one of Montblanc’s signature pen cases, with topographic lines carved into the black facade to evoke the mountain range that gives the brand its name. Inside, pen enthusiasts can explore exhibits and experiences spanning three floors and 118,000 square feet. “Montblanc Haus was conceived as a journey, recollected through the eyes of a company that has been at the heart of the culture of writing for over 115 years,” says Baretzki. “Every detail breathes writing.”
The space’s centerpiece is a collection of more than 400 writing instruments, from 100-year-old fountain pens to limited-edition releases and artful collaborations. Visitors get an up-close view of Montblanc’s artistry: stone setting, engraving, marquetry, nib making, and more. There are also exhibits on the brand’s history and a video on the importance of handwriting, “The Pulse of Writing,” as well as calligraphy and creative writing classes. Specially commissioned artworks also celebrate pen and paper: Paris-based Studio Marianne Guély created a dramatic, chandelier-inspired paper sculpture that’s suspended from the ceiling, while artist Wendy Andreu fashioned pieces from ink-dyed wool.
Perhaps the most inspiring display is an autograph library featuring handwritten notes from 30 notable figures, including Ernest Hemingway, Frida Kahlo, and Spike Lee. A digital guestbook invites visitors to show off their own handwriting—although the only truly fitting way to end a walk through the museum is with a stop in the gift shop to pick up your own pen. Go ahead, set it to real paper: Feels great, doesn’t it?