In 1887, optometrist L.L. Zemenhof created the language Esperanto with the dream that it will be the universal language that would finally bring world peace and unite everyone. The language did not succeed in doing this, but it has gained enough attention and following all over the world through the centuries.
Prominent figures and personalities throughout history have been known to speak Esperanto, including Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. In 1927, Hofrat Hugo Steiner founded the Esperanto Museum and integrated into the Austrian National Library the following year. Since then, it has grown to hold the world’s biggest collection of artificial languages and a library for linguistic research and language planning. The museum, along with the Department of Planned Languages is located in Palais Mollard-Clary in Vienna.
The collection in the Esperanto Museum is composed of over 35,000 library volumes, 40,000 pamphlets, 23,000 photographs, 2,000 hand-written manuscripts and thousands of other documents in about 500 different planned languages. Aside from ancient and classical languages which are represented in the exhibitions, there are also documents and objects that showcase artificial languages such as Klingon from the TV cult classic Star Trek, New Slavic which was created to transcend the language barriers in the Danube Monarchy and even the joke language Starckdeutsch.
Of course the museum holds a treasure trove of Esperanto objects – there are maps written in Esperanto, translations of famous books, soda bottles, cigarettes, toothpaste and many more. The first book written by Dr. Zemenhof “International Language: Foreword and Complete Textbook” is also prominently displayed in the Esperanto exhibition.