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Build Your Own Deaf Museum

Build Your Own Deaf Museum

3. Logo Deaf Museums Project

Build Your Own Deaf Museum: A Deaf Museums Checklist

February 2022, Liesbeth Pyfers

This checklist was made at the request of a Facebook contact.

It is just a checklist of things you will have to consider, decisions that you will have to make if you are thinking about starting your own Deaf Museum.

Adapt the questions and decisions to your circumstances and interests. Add your own common sense. Consult friends, networks, professionals. 

The checklist was written for someone who had access to a old photos. The checklist can be used also for other materials - magazines, videos, objects. - but you will have to adapt them to fit your situation.   

And please: do send feedback? What works, doesn’t work? What did I forget? This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Stage 1: Planning

1. Your Budget

How much time, money do you want to spend on this? Keep this in mind, when you plan your next steps.

2. Your Objective

Will this be a hobby, are you going to apply for funding, or will this have to be a self-supporting Museum?

- A hobby: try and find some like-minded people to help you.
- You will apply for funding for your Museum: look for funding options, make a professional business plan, be patient. This can take a long time.
- A self-supporting Museum? Make a business plan, do market research. What will be the costs?  What can you charge? How many visitors will you need?

and/or: contact an existing Deaf or mainstream museum and ask if they are interested in your collection. 
and/or: consider alternatives. A photobook? A YouTube video? A documentary?

3. Your Story

Decide what story you want to tell. What do you want people to see, experience, learn, remember after visiting your museum?

4. Your Materials

What photos do you need to tell your story?

The photos that you want to use: do you own them? Do you have to collect them? Borrow them Buy them?

Do you have the copyrights? You cannot publish photos if you don't have the copyrights. Two exceptions: the photos are already in the public domain, and/or the copyrights have expired. Usually copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years.

 What about GDPR? GDPR: General Data Protection Regulation - or similar legislation. It protects the rights of the people who can be identified in a photo or video. You cannot publish photos or videos without their  permission.

5. Your Location

If you want our museum to be a self-supporting museum, you’ll need large numbers of visitors, an attractive easy to reach location with good facilities. 

If your museum is more like a hobby and a few visitors a month are OK: find a pace for instance in a Deaf club, a school, a community center, your garage that is (almost) free. 

Or: make your museum a virtual museum on the internet. 

Step 2: Production

6. Preserve, protect

Scan the photos. Do it yourself by hand  or find a professional service, a museum or a university to do it for you.

Store the digitized images safely, online or on a hard disk. Better yet: do both.

 7. Catalogue

Catalogue your photos. Number them, give them a name, a description, a year, a link to the digital file.

8. Select

Select the photos that will tell your story. It is often better to use a few very good photos than to use large numbers.

9. Display

Decide how you are going to display the photos, in your physical museum or online. 

Visit museums for inspiration: online museums and physical museums.

Physical: look at display options. Find out what it costs to have photos  printed in a large size. Find out about display panels. 

Online: Find someone to make you a website or find an online platform where you can publish your photos for free.  
Pinterest? Instagram? Historypin?  Check out the resources on this website for more options.

10. Accessibility

Think about accessibility. What can you do to make your museum accessible to people with visual disabilities? Elderly people? People with physical disabilities?

11. Information

Write an information label for each photo Make the labels informative - for everyone. So not just the date and the location. Make each photo tell a story. Or: find the people who can tell you the story of each photo. Write these stories down or record them on video. Make these stories available in your museum. In a physical musuem, you can add video screens or monitors. Or you can use QR codes that people can scan with their cell phone to see the videos online.

With videos: add  transcripts that blind people can access the information. If videos are signed: add subtitles for people who do not know sign language. If stories are spoken or written: add a sign language translation.

If it is a physical museum: think about tour guides.

Step 3: Open

12. Name and Logo

Choose a name and a logo for your museum.

13. Advertise

Advertise. Use social media, networks, print media. Continue to do this, always. Actively.

14. Celebrate

Organize a festive opening. Invite everyone who helped. Invite important people, trendsetters.

15. Monitor

Keep track of visitors, ask for feedback, check what works, doesn’t work. 

16. Improve, grow, keep going

Keep working on your exhibition, make improvements, add new materials, organize events so that people will not forget about you, so that you will continue to attract new and old visitors. 

Plan for the future.