Language Museum Manifesto
In an attempt to simultaneously capture the volatile and the eternal, we founded Language Museum Society in January 2020. The aim of the society is to create the first Language Museum in Latvia by 2030 — a place where it will be possible to go in search of language secrets and discover change. The museum is one of the ways in which we are implementing the mission of House of Languages — which is to promote positive, social change by means of language.
Language Museum will host events and exhibitions, do publishing and research, run both scientific projects and activities for the community, and develop the museum collection. Visitors will be encouraged to develop their own internal, personal “language museums” by changing their own thoughts, feelings, attitudes, reflections, and stimulations, by reflecting and by amusing themselves. Language Museum will have a think tank where the public can discuss the latest political developments which affect language, or ideological uses of language, or share opinions about language, etc. We hope to inspire people to recognize language as a vehicle for promoting social justice and tilling the soils from which future generations will grow.
The old is the saying that a museum without a collection is merely a club. Therefore, we have already started to develop our concept of what the museum collection will include, and we will slowly systematize these exhibits so critical to the museum’s principled origin. The founding collection of the museum is a unique, language-specific library. A portion of this collection consists of the books of linguist Rasma Grīsle, another portion — books of the private library of the founder of House of Languages, Snorre Karkkonen-Svensson, and the rest is gifts from supporters and friends of House of Languages. This collection is stored at House of Languages.
The collection of Language Museum will also include artworks specifically created for the museum, such as graphics, videos, etc. We will develop the collections in close cooperation with our patrons and visitors by identifying the creative ways in which language functions in society. One of our most important principles is balancing the classic and the contemporary in the collection, creating the fullest possible picture of how language influences societal change.
In this dynamic, multidimensional world, we aim to illuminate the myriad ways in which language affects the disciplines of art, music, photography, religion, media, and so on. For example, what are the “languages” of the visual arts, photography, and cinema? In what ways do these languages manifest and what does that tell us about who we are, in the present, past and future? Or, what types of verbal and non-verbal language are used by different religions? Through the activities of Language Museum, we will raise awareness of the presence of language in different cultural and social areas. We will invite the public to learn and to take part.
The museum experiments, events, and promotions will encourage visitors to explore the diverse nature of language between and within other spheres. All will be invited to look at themselves, the people around them, and humanity with new eyes — from a transformative, language-related perspective. In the fall of 2020, a mini-museum was opened at House of Languages, previewing aspects of what the full museum will be.
Language Museum will be based in reality and experience. It will not be archaic and static — we will ensure as much. Language Museum will maintain its own principles of work, methods, and activities.