Areas of Study


To enhance the future of the deaf community, we must preserve its past. The National Deaf Life Museum serves as a beacon of progress and hope for deaf culture.

Founded by the late Jane Norman, Ph.D., a treasured Gallaudet University colleague, the museum serves to:

  • Create public programming that reaches our campus, surrounding neighborhoods, diverse Washington, D.C. constituencies, as well as national and international audiences.
  • Advocate for the open exchange of ideas about what it means to be deaf vs hearing with the local, national, and international communities.
  • Provide national leadership in the presentation of deaf history and contemporary life of the deaf community.
  • Host historical, linguistic, and cultural scholarship that serves the University and its visitors as a resource on deaf life and artistic expression.

Plan Your Visit!


The National Deaf Life Museum offers credit-earning internships to students in a variety of majors. Have your academic advisor contact Museum staff for more information.


Volunteer opportunities are available for students, alumni, and interested community members. Contact museum staff for more information about training as a docent and scheduling volunteer hours.

Class Visits

Students are always welcome in the museum, and we offer educational opportunities for professors who wish to bring their class as a group to learn about Gallaudet history and other programs the museum offers.

Classroom Lectures

Instructors wishing to have a guest speaker on the subjects of museum studies, exhibition design and writing, Gallaudet history, Deaf culture, and related topics are welcome to contact museum staff.

While we have developed plans for future exhibitions, the committee is always interested in suggestions. To impart your vision for an exhibition or new ways of reaching communities, please


Be a Friend of the Museum
You can make a donation by writing a check or making a secure online donation. All donation proceeds go to the Gallaudet Museum Donations Fund. You can help by making a gift, either individually or through an alumni class. Gerald "Bummy" Burstein, Class of 1950,...


Left Behind: HIV/AIDS and the Deaf Community
   Left Behind: HIV/AIDS and the Deaf CommunityOpen in Chapel Hall during regular museum hours through December 1, 2023   This exhibition recounts the history of the HIV/AIDS crisis as it was experienced by the Deaf community. Because news, health information, and support networks were...
Andrew J. Foster Exhibit
Andrew Jackson Foster was the first Black Deaf student to graduate from Gallaudet University after the Jim Crow era. Although he was allowed to enroll, the campus atmosphere was no less racist than the world outside it, and Foster's experiences with bullying spurred him to...
Deaf HERstory Exhibit
The Deaf HERstory exhibition by the National Deaf Life Museum was located at the Museum Annex - Weyerhaeuser Family Gallery area at the lower level at the Student Academic Center from the summer of 2015 until March 3, 2017. The exhibition was replaced by the...
Deaf Peace Corps Exhibit
The National Deaf Life Museum opened Making a Difference: Deaf Peace Corps Volunteers in the Weyerhaeuser Family Gallery and Exhibition Hall of the I. King Jordan Student Academic Center on Tuesday, October 25, 2010. Deaf Returned Peace Corps Volunteers with Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams....
Gallaudet at 150 and Beyond Exhibit
  The National Deaf Life Museum at Gallaudet University (formerly Gallaudet University Museum) opened its permanent exhibition, Gallaudet at 150 and Beyond, on April 8, 2014, during the 150th Anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's signing of the charter that established what would become Gallaudet University....
History Through Deaf Eyes
Gallaudet University created the "Deaf Eyes" project to bring deaf history to the public and expand understanding of U.S. history. The project is multi-faceted and includes the: Exhibition - History Through Deaf Eyes Documentary Film - Through Deaf Eyes Book - Through Deaf Eyes: A...
Language, Culture, Communities
This exhibit was on loan from the American School for the Deaf and the Connecticut Historical Society from January 29 to April 6, 2018, in the Linda K. Jordan Gallery at the Washburn Art Building. It was accessible in ASL, Spanish, and Braille. View our photo...
Olof Hanson Exhibit
The National Deaf Life Museum's first exhibition, Olof Hanson, Conspicuous Leader (1862-1933), opened on October 22, 2009, and closed on October 1, 2011. The exhibit focused on the life of the deaf architect, advocate, and clergyman Olof Hanson. "The purpose of this exhibit is to...
The Life of Robert Panara Exhibit
The Life of Robert Panara Exhibit is on loan from the Rochester Institute of Technology and the National Technical Institute of the Deaf, in collaboration with the Gallaudet University Archives. On March 8, 2016, Meredith Peruzzi, Manager, unveiled the temporary exhibit that is located in...
Then & Now Exhibit
Although nostalgia can be bittersweet, psychologists have found that it improves our mood and connects us with others. We look to the past as a means of finding ourselves in history, seeking reassurance that future generations will look back at us, prolonging our legacy. Our...
We Are Equal Exhibit
The National Fraternal Society of the Deaf is a unique institution in American history. Founded in 1901, it continued for over 100 years as one of the strongest Deaf-run businesses ever established. Taking its name from the NFSD slogan, the Gallaudet University Museum exhibition "We...


Changing Lives: Reaching and Teaching the Children of Africa
Deaf Americans see Laurent Clerc and Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet as the founders of deaf education in the U.S., and many deaf Africans look to Andrew Foster in the same way. Before his arrival in Africa in 1957, the continent's only schools for deaf children were...
Changing Lives: Schools and Missions Founded by Andrew Foster 1957-1987
Andrew Foster was a guiding sun in Nigeria and throughout Africa. I hope we Africans will do something as important as what he did for us." - Idemudia Lawrence, '05, 2004 1957: Accra, Ghana 1960: Ibadan, Nigeria 1962: Enugu-Nsukka, Nigeria 1962: Kaduna, Nigeria 1973: Center...
Changing Lives: The Foster Legacy
Andrew and Berta's son Tim Foster has carried the torch lit by his parents throughout Africa. Working with the Christian Mission for the Deaf, he continues to ensure deaf children receive education. Tim Foster on mission trip to N'Djamena, Chad, 2012 Courtesy of the Andrew...
Changing Lives: Touching the Future
Traveling in rural Africa can be dangerous. In 1987, a 12-passenger flight from Kenya crashed in Rwanda, and with it Andrew Foster's work was cut short. His legacy, however, cannot be underestimated. Thousands of deaf children have received education from his schools, that they could...
Changing Lives: Andrew J. Foster exhibit
The dreams we have as children do not always come true, but even as a young boy Andrew Foster wanted to go to Africa to preach the gospel. His dream became a reality, and over 50 years later, his legacy continues, putting thousands of deaf...
Changing Lives: A Family’s Devotion
Andrew Foster was not alone in his passion for educating and converting deaf Africans. He met his wife, Berta, in Germany, and they married in Nigeria in 1961. Having five children did not slow down their work, and together they founded the Africa Bible College...
Changing Lives: Leading the Way
Andrew Foster's chief goal in Africa was religious education and conversion, and he felt countries were responsible for the general education of their own deaf citizens. With some success, he persuaded authorities to take on the responsibility and encourage networking and collaboration among educators. In...
Changing Lives: Andrew J. Foster Timeline
Andrew Foster is born in Ensley, Alabama. Andrew and his brother Edward become deaf due to an outbreak of meningitis. Foster moves to Detroit for better opportunities, completes high school, and earns a business school diploma. Completing his degree in only three years, Foster is...
Celebrating 150 Years!
Photo by John Mason In October 2013, students from Michelle McAuliffe's Digital Photography class organized and documented a campus photo with people standing in 150 formations. Photographers Taylor Moser and John Mason captured the moment of jubilation as people signed "1 5 0" and then...
Gallaudet at 150 and Beyond History Through Deaf Eyes Language, Culture, Communities: 200 Years of Impact by the American School for the Deaf We Are Equal: The National Fraternal Society of the Deaf Deaf Difference + Space Survival The Life of Robert Panara, '45 &...


Contact Us

National Deaf Life Museum

Chapel Hall

(202) 250-2235

** By Appointment Only **

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