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The Deaf Museums Project

The Deaf Museums Project

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Why is there a Museum of Ice Cream, a Museum of Shoes, A Museum of Buttons,  when at the same time there are so very few Deaf Museums in Europe?

The overall objective of the Deaf Museums project was to change this. Our long term goal: to have at least one national Deaf Museum in each and every country of the EU. 

The Deaf Museums project was a European project that was funded under the Erasmus+ programme of the EU. The consortium consisted of 7 partners from 6 EU countries.

The organisations in the consortium are very different. We are located in different countries, we are different in what we do:

  • ISLA, the Siena School of Liberal Arts is located in Siena, Italy,
  • EUD is an NGO that represents the National Associations of the Deaf of the EU member states,
  • UCLan is a university in the UK,
  • DeafStudio is a multimedia company of and for Deaf sign language users in Slovakia,
  • equalizent is a social business in Austria,
  • FMS is a consultancy for museums in Italy,
  • Pragma is a small SME in the Netherlands.

For more information about the consortium partners, click here.

Each of us has different strengths, expertise, interests. What do we have in common? We all want to preserve Deaf History, the Deaf Heritage. 

We knew from the start that, in the 2.5  years of the project and with our limited Erasmus+ budget, we would not be able to build a Deaf Museum in all countries of the EU, or even just in our own countries.

Instead, each of us set out to make an exhibition about Deaf History or Deaf Culture. Even though most of us had never had any training in Museum skills. The plan: we would learn 'by doing'.  Then, we would use our experiences to teach and inspire others.

Why? Because this is how most Deaf Museums, Deaf Exhibitions are made: by volunteers who learn along the way. Here you can find more information about the exhibitions that the partners built for the Deaf Museums project.
In the last months of the project, we interviewed the partners about the 'making of' their exhibition. You can find the interviews, here (sorry, not available yet, but coming soon). 

This book describes what we learned: by searching the web for good examples, by consulting experts in the field, by doing research and also the hard way: by trial and error. 

For questions, comments or corrections, please mail me: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Liesbeth Pyfers, 10 October 2022, updated 22 December 2022

About this Book

About this Book

This book is one of the outputs of the Deaf Museums project.  It was made for Deaf sign language users who are interested in learning about Museum skills, who work at a Deaf Museum, or who want to start a Deaf Museum.

The book gives an overview of what we learned during the 30 months of the Deaf Museums Project: about mainstream Museums and about Deaf Museums.
It is also a bit of a 'how to' guide: where do you start when you want to build a Deaf Museum? What do you have to take into account? What lessons can you learn from existing Museums, both mainstream and Deaf Museums?

Why read this book?

Maybe as a first stepping stone because you are considering a career in the mainstream Museum world. Maybe because you want to work in a Deaf Museum, or because you want to build one.

Or, like the partners in the Deaf Museums project,  because you want to learn what you can do to help preserve and share Deaf History and the Deaf Heritage.

This book is also for mainstream Museum professionals who want to know more about Deaf Museums and about working together with the Deaf Community.

Museum Views & Deaf Perspectives

The book consists of 10 chapters, each about a different topic. You can read the chapters in any order that you want, in your own time. There is no teacher, there are no tests. 

In the Table of Contents, you can find a short summary of each chapter: the Intros.

The first part of each chapter gives some background information about relevant developments in mainstream Museums.

In the second part of each chapter you can read about Deaf Museums, and how they have adapted mainstream information and practices to make them fit the world of Deaf Museums. 

For people who want to know more we have included links to additional resources: Further reading. 

Language and Spelling

We've tried to write the texts in easy to read English. The Google Translate button enables you to read the text in your own national language. 

In our own texts, we will use Deaf with a big D. For more information about Deaf with a big D and deaf with a little d, please read the information in the Terminology section

We will also use Museum with a capital letter.

In the texts that are quotes from other authors, we will of course use the spelling of the original authors. 

ChatGPT Examples

After we'd published the draft of this report, ChatGPT became available online. ChatGPT is on online tool that can answer questions about anything. At the moment, anyone can use it for free.

ChatGPT uses information that is available on the internet to write one or several answers to a question that you ask. It can do this is any (?) language.  People use ChatGPT to write articles, essays, letters, advertisements, summaries,  books.  They type a question and within seconds ChatGPT produces a well-written answer. The language will be correct, but there may be mistakes in the content. Chat'GPT  uses information that it finds on the internet, and of course there is a lot of false information there. But most of the time, the texts that ChatGPT produces are very useful. 

Probably, we could have used ChatGPT to write this report. Definitely the chapters about mainstream Museums, Maybe also  most of the texts about Deaf Museums.  However, we decided not to use ChatGPT to rewrite this report for us. We did use it to check the contents of all chapters to make sure that we did  not forget something important?

We also used ChatGPT to write examples for us, to show you how you can use this tool to write a mission statement, a business plan, or even an application for funding. You can use these examples  for inspiration,. Then, you may want to use ChatGPT to help you write your own texts.  In the headings, you can see if an example was written by ChatGPT.  You can find all ChatGPT examples, by using the index (see below).


The Table of Contents  gives you access to the chapters.

The Index is a list of keywords used in the text with links to the relevant pages in the book. (Work in progress!)

Terminology will send you to a different part of the website. Here, you will find explanations of Museum Studies terms and Deaf Studies terms.




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