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Musée d'Histoire et de Culture des Sourds (FR)

Musée d'Histoire et de Culture des Sourds (FR)

Responses Musée d'Histoire et de Culture des Sourds (FR)

More info. about the Musée d'Histoire et de Culture des Sourds

Questions answered by: Caroline and Yvette Pelletier, 11 May 2022. (Questions and answers in French, translation by Frankie Picron) 

Question 1: Interest? Musée d'Histoire et de Culture des Sourds (FR)

Is there a lot of interest in your Museum, is your Museum important? In your city, your region, in your country? Why? Or... why not?

Our museum is of undeniable interest because it is the only museum dedicated to the history of the deaf in France. In this sense it is important.

It is known at the national level but also at the international level. Deafness in general, and its history in particular, arouses people's curiosity.

Question 2: Target Group? Musée d'Histoire et de Culture des Sourds (FR)

The target group of your Museum: the Deaf community or also hearing persons? Adults, or also children? 

Can you tell us how many people visit your Museum, on average, Per day, week, or per month?

The museum targets the deaf community, of course, but also a wide audience, so hearing people. 

Adults visit it but also children taken by their schools. Researchers come here to find information for their work (theses, for example).

The number of visitors per month is very variable, depending on summer and winter. The number has continued to increase since the museum opened in 2013, except during the COVID health crisis; last year we had 235 visitors; in 2020: 168, and then in 2019: 419.

Question 3: Advertising Musée d'Histoire et de Culture des Sourds (FR)

Does your Museum have a website? Do you use Social Media? Do you advertise in other ways? 

What - in your opinion -  is the most effective way to get people to visit your museum?

Website: https://www.musee-sourds-louhans.fr/ It contains a lot of stuff including pages on old elements of sign language.

We use certain social media: Facebook in particular  and Instagram.

Advertising in other ways? No, not for the moment.

But the local newspapers often talk about us and our activities as well as magazines for the deaf.

Most effective way? Talk about it as much as possible and make it known by all means, for example during association celebrations, conferences accompanied by flyers, etc.

Musée d'Histoire et de Culture des Sourds (FR) Question 4: Location?

The location of your Museum. Is it in a building that is owned by you? Rented? Can you use it for free? Is your Museum located at a Deaf school, a Deaf Club or a Deaf Association? If we may ask: what are the costs? 

Our museum is located in a building that is the former city hospital, recognized as a historical monument!

It is made available to us free of charge. We pay the charges: electricity, water, heating, telephone (Internet)…

Musée d'Histoire et de Culture des Sourds (FR) Question 5: Finances?

Is your museum a commercial enterprise, do you make a profit?

Do you receive funding? From who?

Our museum is a “Law 1901” type association (non-profit organization). We don't make a profit. 

We ensure that our finances are balanced.

We receive grants at various levels, donations from individuals and associations.

Musée d'Histoire et de Culture des Sourds (FR) Question 6: People working at your Museum ?

Do you have any paid employees? If yes: how many? 

Do you depend on volunteers? How many volunteers work at your Museum?

The people who work at your Museum (as professionals or as volunteers) have they had any special training in Museum Skills, other relevant training? 

Paid employees: no.

Volunteers: yes.

It depends on the times but there is always at least one person. In addition, there is always someone present every Tuesday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. to receive the public.

 

We’re planning training in cataloguing and archiving

Musée d'Histoire et de Culture des Sourds (FR) Question 7: Collaboration?

Do you work together with other Deaf Museums? Or universities, groups or Deaf Archives in Europe?  If you do, who with?
If you don't: would you like to cooperate with other organizations ? 

No.

But yes, we’d like to.

Musée d'Histoire et de Culture des Sourds (FR) Question 8: The Future?

What about the future of your Museum?  What are future risks, future opportunities? 

As the museum relies on volunteers, the risk is what the volunteers can do. If there are no more volunteers, a solution will have to be found with the support of the National Federation of the Deaf of France.

Musée d'Histoire et de Culture des Sourds (FR) Question 9: Three wishes?

If you could make three wishes for the future of your Museum: or for Deaf Museums in general: what do you wish for?

  • For our museum to be better known by people.
  • Additional means.
  • Talk about our museum to the media.

Musée d'Histoire et de Culture des Sourds (FR) Question 10: Anything Else?

Are there any other things you want to tell Deaf Associations, other organisations or people who want to start a Deaf Museum? Any advice? Things they should - or should not - do?

There are a few associations in France which have a small museum, either in their home or in the house of associations. I think they should be encouraged to continue to preserve, protect and safeguard the cultural heritage of the Deaf community.

It would also be interesting and necessary for museums to show solidarity and to be able to exchange information, knowledge and experiences.

Quotes:

  • "Inclusion is moving from “we tolerate your presence” to “we WANT you here with us”.
    Jillian Enright in The Social Model of Disability, 2021
  • "The UN Declaration of Human Rights states that “Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community”. This is based on the principle that citizens are not just consumers of cultural capital created by others; we have agency and the right to contribute through culture to the wider good of society."
    Source: A manifesto for museum learning and engagement
  • "It was only during the past decade that recognition of the importance of preserving Deaf history has emerged. In the main, Deaf heritage, culture and folklore has been passed down from generation to generation via the medium of sign language and fingerspelling. (..) It is also vital that the history of Deaf people is made available to future generations, especially Deaf schoolchildren as part of their history lessons."
    A. Murray Holmes,  in: Cruel Legacy, an introduction of Deaf people in history, by A.F. Dimmock, 1993
  • “If you do not know where you come from, then you don't know where you are, and if you don't know where you are, then you don't know where you're going. And if you don't know where you're going, you're probably going wrong.”
    Terry Pratchett, I Shall Wear Midnight
  • “One story makes you weak. But as soon as we have one-hundred stories, you will be strong.”
    Chris Cleave in "Little Bee", 2008
  • "Museums can increase our sense of wellbeing, help us feel proud of where we have come from, and inspire, challenge and stimulate us."
    Source: Museums Change Lives
  • "Histories have for too long emphasized the controversies over communication methods and the accomplishments of hearing people in the education of deaf students, with inadequate attention paid to those deaf individuals who created communication bridges and distinguished themselves as change agents in their respective field of endeavour."
    from: Harry G. Lang, Bonny Meath-Lang: Deaf Persons in the Arts and Sciences, 1995
  • "And yet, even within a large and, in many ways, traditional organization such as this (Trøndelag Folk Museum, Norway), the museum's encounter with Deaf culture contributed to profound changes and a process, still underway, which challenges our own understanding of what a museum is today, our role in society and our obligations towards more diverse audiences than those we had previously engaged or even recognized."
    Hanna Mellemsether, in:  Re-presenting Disability: Activism and Agency in the Museum, 2013
  • "Deaf mute, deaf and dumb, hearing impaired – the choices are many and not without consequences. Words have many meanings, they convey attitudes and prejudices and may hurt, even when used in a well-intended context."
    Hanna Mellemsether, in:  Re-presenting Disability: Activism and Agency in the Museum, 2013
  • "Beyond works of art and objects, museums collect shared heritage, memories and living cultures as well as what we call intangible collectables."
    Source: We are Museums
  • "Deaf people have always had a sense of their history as it was being passed down in stories told by generations of students walking in the hallways of their residential schools and by others who congregated in their clubs, ran associations, attended religious services, and played in sporting events.
    With these activities, the deaf community exhibited hallmarks of agency — an effort to maintain their social, cultural, and political autonomy amid intense pressure to conform as hearing, speaking people."
    BRIAN H. GREENWALD AND JOSEPH J. MURRAY, in: Sign Language Studies, Volume 17, Number 1, Fall 2016
  • the past can hurt

    From: Walt Disney, The Lion King

  • "Museums can increase our sense of wellbeing, help us feel proud of where we have come from, and inspire, challenge and stimulate us."
    Source: https://www.museumsassociation.org/campaigns/museums-change-lives/
  • "After all, we are all of us explorers, and we all have much to bring to each other from our own
    journeyings."
    Ladd, P. (2003). Understanding Deaf Culture: In Search of Deafhood.
  • "An important matter for any minority group is that written documents in public archives are often drawn up by the majority group and do not always reflect a minority as it sees itself. Thus, preserving sign language narration is of the utmost importance and a challenge to those working in the field of Deaf history."
    In: TIINA NAUKKARINEN, Finnish Museum of the Deaf: Presenting the Life of Carl Oscar Malm (1826–1863)
  • "For many members of the Deaf community their shared history is both personal and social. Deaf people will have gone to the same school, in many cases boarding schools where most of their younger lives will have been spent together, and then met again at their Deaf clubs, Deaf social events, reunions and other more personal events.
    One of the first things a Deaf person will often ask on meeting, before asking your name, is what school or Deaf club you go to. Making this connection is an important part of any greeting, as it will then help an individual to understand what shared history or people in common you may have."
    from: The Cultural Model of Deafness
  • "The Deaf community is international. What binds Deaf people, despite their different national sign languages, is their shared visual communication, history, cultural activities, and the need for a Deaf “space” where people come together."

    from: The Cultural Model of Deafness
  • “Stories of disability are largely absent from museum displays. Where they appear, they often reflect deeply entrenched, negative attitudes towards physical and mental difference. Research reveals that museums don’t simply reflect attitudes; they are active in shaping conversations about difference.
    Projects created with disabled people show that museums hold enormous potential to shape more progressive, accurate and respectful ways of understanding human diversity. Why wouldn’t we take up this opportunity? ”
    Richard Sandell, co-director, Research Centre for Museums and Galleries, University of Leicester
  • "As recently as the 1970s, deaf history did not exist. There were available sketches of various hearing men, primarily teachers, who were credited with bringing knowledge and enlightenment to generations of deaf children, but deaf adults were absent."

    In: Preface to: "Deaf History Unvailed, Interpretations from the New Scholarship". John Vickrey van Cleve, editor
    Publisher: Gallaudet University Press, 1993
  • "Until the fall semester of 1986, the history department at Gallaudet University had never before offered a course in the history of deaf people.
    In the 122 years, to that point, since the founding of the university, which was specifically intended for the education of deaf peoples, no one had ever taught a course about this very group of people.
    In all of those years the history department had offered courses on a wide range of topics but never deaf history. "
    ENNIS, WILLIAM T., et al. “A Conversation: Looking Back on 25 Years of A Place of Their Own.” Sign Language Studies, vol. 17, no. 1, 2016, pp. 26–41. 
  • "What has become clear is that museums don’t just function as custodians of the past anymore; instead, they have embraced their responsibility towards the communities of the present: a responsibility to represent them, to speak to them, and to be open to dialogue with them."
    Tim Deakin, August 2021
  • "The most significant function of museums is as centres for cultural democracy, where children and adults learn through practical experience that we all have cultural rights. Having the opportunity to create, and to give to others, may be one of our greatest sources of fulfilment. Culture is everywhere and is created by everyone."
    Source: A manifesto for museum learning and engagement
  • "This (Deaf) Museum is not intended as a casual show, to be seen once and forgotten. Its pretensions are nobler; it has a humanitarian aim. By its solid and tangible evidences, making history memorable and attractive by illustration, it serves a double purpose: to dispel ignorance and prejudice regarding the deaf, and to raise the victims of this prejudice and ignorance to their true level in society."
    The British Deaf Monthly, Vol. VI (p.265) 1897. In: Deaf Museums and Archival Centres, 2006
  • "Access to and participation in culture is a basic human right. Everyone has a right to representation and agency in museums, and communities should have the power to decide how they engage."
    Source: A manifesto for museum learning and engagement
  • "Nina Simon has described true inclusion in a museum context as occurring when museums value the diversity in their audience, value those individuals’ potential and contributions, when they actively link those diverse people across differences, and when the organisation reaches out with generosity and curiosity at the core.
    On a practical level this sort of museum practice would see widespread inclusion of people with disabilities in the planning of museum exhibitions, on museum boards and steering committees, and working in curatorial roles."
    In: Corinne Ball: Expressing Ourselves, 2020
  • "Opening ourselves to the Deaf community, listening to and respecting them as co-creators and experts telling the stories they want told, makes our practice richer, and has ongoing positive effects for the community.
    These embryonic relationships hopefully encourage Deaf people to feel welcome in our space — it’s their space too.
    For both side, communities and museum professionals, while genuinely, openly and truly committing to working together can be time-consuming, it repays any investment many-fold."
    Corinne Ball: Expressing ourselves’: creating a Deaf exhibition", 2020
  • "The Finnish Museum of the Deaf) was founded by deaf people, and, thus, its task has been to strengthen their identity and historical communality.

    Most of our materials have a connection to the key experiences that generations of deaf people have shared. These are important in understanding the past and keeping the collective memory alive."
    In: TIINA NAUKKARINEN, Finnish Museum of the Deaf: Presenting the Life of Carl Oscar Malm (1826–1863)