Unique documentation: 59 language museums all over the world

There are at least 59 museums of language or written culture in 31 countries all over the world. Two out of three are located in Europe, and most of the museums were opened after 1990, says general director Ottar Grepstad at the Centre for Norwegian Language and Literature in Western Norway.

This week he published the e-book «A world of languages and written culture» which presents all the museums together with information about language websites, language days, festivals and monuments. The book is available free of charge at www.aasentunet.no.

Invites to a global network

In a few weeks the Centre for Norwegian Language and Literature will invite all the museums into a global digital network for exchange of information and experiences. – I hope we also can develop some kind of cooperation and even have a first meeting at the general conference of the International Council of Museums in Milan in 2016, Grepstad says.

The museums of language or written culture are located in 31 countries. Germany alone has ten museums, and France, USA and China are the only other countries with more than three museums. At least six language museums are under construction.

A change of thinking about language

– The way of thinking about language has changed throughout the world the last decades, says Grepstad, and more than half of the museums were opened after 1990. The oldest language museum dates from 1898, and the oldest museum on written culture from 1884. Only six of the museums were established before World War I.

In the book Grepstad divides the museums into four groups:

• 5 museums of language and languages of the world

• 29 museums of a single language or group of languages

• 15 museums of writing and written culture

• 10 museums in memory of persons

The book also brings information about 45 virtual museums and other informative web sites about the system of language, language in use and language rights. Documentation is also included about 30 language monuments, 19 festivals and 64 days and weeks for celebration of languages.