The Esperanto Museum of the Austrian National Library, founded in 1927, is one of the most traditional language museums in the world. The museum not only presents the Esperanto language and topics from the history of the Esperanto movement, it also deals with people’s relationship to languages and the language problem in general. The exhibition shows that Esperanto arose in specific and concrete, historical and cultural contexts. Thus the museum also illustrates that Esperanto is part of cultural history and a manifestation of special linguistic creativity.

Objects in showcases and film show the historical dimension of the phenomenon programming language Four interactive computers enable active information, with which the visitors themselves can choose the extent of the information. Among other things, visitors can also look through a world map with current Esperanto congresses and Esperanto meetings.

Central services of the Esperanto Museum are regular events, for example the “Long Night of the Museums”, the “Open Day of the Museums”, the “Day of the Monuments”, and especially special programs for children and young people, the so-called ” Wissenswelten” (worlds of knowledge), during which the students also participate in Esperanto crash courses.

After the year 2020 the number of visitors increased again and in 2022 14,211 people visited the permanent exhibition.

From December 15, 2022, the Esperanto Museum offers a new service for its visitors, a modern audio guide, which first appeared in German and English. From May 2023 there is also an Esperanto version, which was financed by the Esperantic Studies Foundation (ESF) and the Center for Research and Documentation on World Language Problems (CED).

With a quick response code (QR code) the audio guide with all three language versions can be downloaded onto the smartphone. Because of this, it can not only be listened to during the visit to the Esperanto Museum, but also later visitors can listen to or read the texts and use the links to the various digital objects . The audio guide provides additional information to the display texts in the Esperanto Museum and contains the following chapters:

  • The Esperanto Museum of the Austrian National Library
  • The time before Esperanto
  • Linguistic diversity
  • Volapük
  • Doctor Esperanto
  • Letter about the origins of Esperanto
  • Natural evolution
  • International language
  • Universal Congresses of Esperanto
  • Lingua Franca in Siberia
  • Esperanto – language of peace
  • Alfred Hermann Fried on Esperanto
  • Nazism
  • Illusion and vision
  • Esperanto in music and film
  • Literature in Esperanto

The version in Esperanto is particularly important. It not only provides information about the exhibition to Esperanto speakers, but it also enables people who do not yet or barely know Esperanto to hear texts in that language. Under the theme “Esperanto in music and film” it is even possible to listen to three songs in Esperanto. The audio guide also draws attention to the Collection for Planned Languages of the Austrian National Library, the world’s most comprehensive specialist library and archive collection on Esperanto and planned languages.

Bernhard Tuider is a librarian in the Department of Planned Languages and Esperanto Museum at the Austrian National Library and a lecturer at Leopold-Franzens University, Innsbruck, Austria.

This article is also available in Esperanto.

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