Publishers, manufacturers of printing machines and printing houses donated books, apparatus and machines, which formed the basis of the collection. In its first few years the museum was part of the city library, meaning that the most beautiful and characteristic volumes from the library's extensive collection could be requisitioned for the museum.
The Gutenberg Museum was originally laid out in two rooms at the Kurfurstliches Schlog (Electoral Palace Mainz), which also accommodated the city library.
The museum moved into the new library building on the Rheinallee in 1912.
The same year, 1925, saw the installation of a reconstruction of Gutenberg's workshop which soon became one of the museum's main attractions.
Type founding, typesetting and printing could now be demonstrated visually.
The replica of Gutenberg's printing press, rebuilt according 15th- and 16th-century woodcuts, proved an object of great interest to visitors and was henceforth shown at a large number of exhibitions all over the world.