The newly opened Gallaudet Museum, recognized for its commitment to promoting a rich deaf experience, honored RIT’s very own Joan Naturale with the respected title “Honorary Librarian.” Joan is the NTID Reference Librarian at the Wallace Center. Presented at the Museum’s Grand Opening Ceremony in April, the honor celebrates Joan’s collaborative work in setting up programs, lectures, and displays that inspire a deeper understanding of the Deaf community. The museum opening marked the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s signing of Gallaudet’s Congressional Charter, allowing it to confer college degrees. In doing so, Lincoln validated the right to have access to education for deaf and hard-of-hearing people.
Meredith Peruzzi, Curator at Gallaudet Museum, says, “Joan’s experience with creating exhibits and working as an archivist make her an especially important contributor to the Gallaudet University Museum. Her work in deaf history, in particular, allows her to provide interpretive guidance on the Museum's projects that bring deaf history and culture to a wide audience."
As Honorary Librarian, Joan, a Gallaudet alumnus, will have ongoing involvement with the Gallaudet Museum as an advisor, providing recommendations for future exhibits and contributing to the preservation of historical materials crucial to deaf culture.
Joan’s expertise and guidance have been instrumental in bringing Deaf history to life on Gallaudet’s campus and beyond. Among her varied roles, she is the Deaf Studies Archive (DSA) co-curator and DSA instructor at RIT, a member of the Deaf World Library Museum Consortium, and an advisory group member for a grant that, if funded, would establish the Center for Deaf Documentary Studies at Gallaudet. Through these programs and others, she challenges deaf and hearing students alike to open their eyes to a remarkable Deaf community. Classes who would like to visit the DSA can contact Joan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 286-4635.
The RIT community will be interested to know that Joan’s work with Gallaudet is bringing greater awareness to some of RIT’s programs, the Museum Studies program in particular. Further, many are familiar with Gallaudet and their work in elevating the contributions of the Deaf community. Opportunities for collaboration between schools continue to increase largely due to Joan’s involvement.