As a researcher in multilingualism, I’m instantly drawn to any museum (or film or book or play or- you get the idea) that explores the linguistic complexity of our world. From lingua francas like English and French to the vanishing languages of tiny communities in northern Australia, the Amazon or Papua New Guinea, from failed experiments like Esperanto to invaluable sign languages, all languages are valuable, complex and worthy of study.
One Paris museum that agrees with me wholeheartedly is Mundolingua, or the Musée des Langues. Located down a calm, picturesque Saint-Germain street, Mundolingua is a small but passionately-run space dedicated to the history, use and future of languages. Novices in Linguistics will be sure to learn a lot from the museum’s interactive touch screens, and even hardened academics like myself will appreciate the history and mythology displays. I particularly enjoyed the screen about myths of the origins of multilingualism. Most have heard the biblical story of the Tower of Babel, but there are also ancient fables from native American, Aboriginal, Inuit and other peoples about how the earth became divided by language.
However, Mundolingua is not a typical museum, with a collection of artworks or artefacts. Instead, it is more of an interactive learning space, something between an independent classroom experience and a multimedia library. The space is host to many school groups, teaching children and adults alike about the importance of the past, present, and future of languages across the globe.