Preserving Deaf Art

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the shoe stand walter geikie
The Shoe Stand by Walter Geikie (1795-1837)

The Deaf Museum & Archive’s collection includes works by deaf artists going back to the 18th century. Peter Jackson encourages members of the Deaf community to avail of this special place.

It is not widely known that the Deaf Museum and Archive, managed by the British Deaf History Society in Warrington, Cheshire has a growing collection of paintings, drawings and other artistic exhibits, obtained through a variety of sources – sometimes through bidding at auctions both in Britain and overseas, sometimes through donations, sometimes through bequests in wills by deaf people, sometimes by buying them in art galleries where they were for sale.

portrait of a young naval subaltern charles shirreff
Portrait of a Young Naval Subaltern by Charles Shirreff (1750-1831)

The Deaf Museum concentrates its collections on paintings and other works done by long-dead deaf artists, some of whom were well-known in their times. These artists include miniaturists like Richard Crosse, 1742-1810 (who was Painter in Enamel to King George III), Thomas Arrowsmith 1771-1830, and Charles Shirreff 1750-1831 (the first deaf pupil educated by Thomas Braidwood). Other artists include celebrated animal painters like William H. H. Trood 1859-1899, and Rupert Dent 1853-1910, whose paintings now sell for many thousands of pounds, especially in auction in USA. There are more than 12 artists whose work is now preserved in the Deaf Museum. Our art exhibits are not confined to paintings or drawings – we also have sculptures, wood-carvings and embroidery items done by deaf people, and we are always on the lookout for more items related to Deaf art. Whether we can get them depends on whether we can afford the prices being asked.

The Deaf Museum and Archive is open every Tuesday from 9:30am to 2:30pm and on nine Saturdays throughout the year from 10am to 3pm (advance notice required). We also welcome on other days groups of visitors (e.g. schools, university students, deaf senior citizen groups) by special appointment.

The museum’s research library is also open on Tuesdays from 9:30am to 2:30pm, or by prior arrangement on other days, for those who wish to do some research into issues relating to deafness. It receives many university researchers both from Britain and overseas.

The Deaf Museum & Archive survives through the work of volunteers and donations, plus specific grants when it can get them. We are always grateful for donations to the museum’s acquisitions fund, which is used to purchase items at auction or elsewhere. To donate, please contact deafmuseum@bdhs.org.uk.

pampa william h h trood
Pampa by William H. H. Trood (1859-1899)

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