Save the Finnish Museum of the Deaf!

The petition has been closed on June, 20, 2011. We thank all the signees!



(21st of May, 2012)

Dear All,

The Finnish Museum of the Deaf has merged with the Finnish Labour Museum Werstas, based in the city of Tampere (Central Finland). The merger took place in the beginning of 2012.

More information about Labour Museum Werstas can be read on page:


At the moment the Finnish Museum of the Deaf is moving all its objects to Tampere. Small exhibitions will take place even later on in Helsinki, at the Finnish Association of the Deaf.

We would like to extend a warm-hearted thank to to all supporters in our campaign to sustain this wonderful, unique museum! The campaign  was not in vain - our  museum was saved - which is a true miracle in these times when so many small historical museums are being closed.


Best regards,

Birgitta Wallvik & Päivi Rainò


The emergence of the Finnish Deaf community and Finnish Sign Language users dates back to 1846 when the first school for the deaf was founded by Carl Oscar Malm, who was also deaf himself. His first disciples in Finland and thus first users of sign language (imported to Finland by Malm from a Swedish deaf school that he attended 1834-1845) soon realized their unique history and started to document their language and preserve material related to Malm. Later the collections of the museum increased and the first exhibition space was opened in 1915.


Today the Finnish Museum of the Deaf is a professional special museum funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture. It is one of the few museums dedicated to the Deaf in the world and widely noted by the international Deaf community. Research, lectures, exhibitions regarding the Deaf history and material heritage of the Deaf has gained worldwide recognition.

The collections of the museum include more than 10 000 objects and photographs, a collection of rare books and original documents regarding the first years of the Finnish Deaf Community. These are now in severe danger, since the Finnish Association of the Deaf (FAD) has decided, due to reduced funding by the Slot Machine Foundation, March 23rd, 2011 to close down the museum and lay off both employees. (There appr. 100 employees in FAD.)

There are no plans how to secure the safekeeping of the collections, no plans regarding the access of visitors and researchers to the collections. Among the material at risk is the priceless original photographic material of the first Sign Language Dictionary from the beginning of the 1910's as well as unique historical works of Deaf artists. In danger of disappearing are also the earliest documents, objects and photographs of Deaf life. ( )

The museum is the collective memory of the Deaf community. Preserving the cultural heritage of the Deaf people is most important now when the community of Sign Language users is rapidly decreasing due to exclusive use of oral language for deaf children with cochlear implants. The decision of the Finnish Association of the Deaf to close down its museum is extremely short sighted and, unfortunately, based on false economy. In the worst case it ends up in destroying the museum collection and terminating the historical and sociological research of the Deaf people in Finland.

We who have signed this petition demand that the Finnish Association of the Deaf will immediately withdraw its proposal to close the museum. We also demand that Finnish Association of the Deaf will ensure that the operation of the museum will be secured.



Birgitta Wallvik                                           Päivi Rainò

Historian                                                    Ph. D., Sign Language Researcher

(Rainò and Wallvik are both codas and members of the Board of the Finnish Museum of the Deaf)


Glossary for Signees:

Etunimi = first name, Sukunimi = family name, Paikkakunta = locality, Maa = country, Sähköpostiosoite = e-mail address (optional!), Näytetäänkö allekirjoituksesi kaikille? = show your signature in public?, Kyllä = yes, Ei = no.

Keskustelu = discussion, Valitse nimimerkki =  pseydonym, pen name (optional)

Päivi Rainò ja Birgitta Wallvik    Ota yhteyttä adressin tekijään

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