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The Finnish Museum of the Deaf

History of the museum

The idea of collecting materials related to the past of the deaf in Finland arose as early as the early 20th century. John Sundberg was a travelling advocate of the Finnish Association of the Deaf, founded in 1905, and a journalist for the association´s magazine Kuurojen Lehti. He had been told that museums depicting the history of deaf education existed in Paris and Leipzig, which inspired him to start planning for a similar museum in Finland.

The time of the foundation of the museum has been estimated on the basis of the donations given by Fritz and Maria Hirn to the museum in 1907. The Hirns were students of Carl Oscar Malm, the founder of deaf education in Finland, and they donated to the museum photographs and materials dating back to their school years. The museum collections increased gradually and the first exhibition, Carl Oscar Malm´s museum room, was opened to the public for the first time on 12 February 1915.

Functions of the museum

Today, the Finnish Museum of the Deaf is a special museum owned by the Finnish Association of the Deaf. The function of the museum is to collect, research and exhibit the cultural heritage of deaf and sing language users in Finland. The aim of the museum is to increase knowledge of the history and culture of deaf and sign language users and to strengthen their identity. In addition, the museum aims at communicating knowledge related to its speciality to the public at large.

The varied collections of the museum serve both researchers and other customers. The Finnish Museum of the Deaf co-operates with other museums and instances that carry out research on the deaf and sign language both in Finland and internationally. The museum does research and presents it through its exhibition activities and the materials it produces.

The museum´s permanent exhibition portrays the life of C.O. Malm, the founder of deaf education in Finland. The history of the sign language community is presented through changing exhibitions. Deaf artists and various associations have also organised their own thematic exhibitions in the museum.

Collections of the museum

The collections of the museum include objects, photographs, documents, books, and works of art. The collections depict deaf education, organisational activities, prominent persons in the community, sign language, and the work that the community has done to strengthen its own status and to achieve equality. The collections cover the period from the late 18th century to the present day.

The Museum of the Deaf
Open tue-thu 10-16
and by appointment
GSM 040 5286982, 050 4344735

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