A museum of “banned books” opens in Estonia

A museum of forbidden literature has opened in the Old Town of Tallinn, the capital of Estonia; the aim of the museum is to present banned, burned or censored books to the general public from different parts of the world.

“In the museum, books from different parts of the world will be exhibited to tell their stories and discuss issues related to the free expression of ideas,” the museum said in a statement.

“In addition, the aim is to conduct initial research on the history of censorship in Estonia, focussing on the period of Soviet occupation. In the museum, visitors can read books, touch them, read them and buy most of them.”

The museum is led by Joseph Maximillian Dunnigan, originally from Scotland. After graduating with a degree in film, Dunnigan moved to China for a few years, where he became deeply interested in freedom of speech and censorship. For the last five years, he has lived in Estonia, working in the field of film industry and studying social entrepreneurship at Tallinn University. It was during his master’s studies in social entrepreneurship that Dunnigan came up with the idea to establish a museum.

Books are categorised by country – forbidden sections can be found from the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, China, but also from the US. There is also a section of books that have been burned for various reasons throughout history.

 “With the museum, we want to raise people’s awareness of the long history of censorship and the importance of freedom of speech. Freedom of thought and expression is not a universally accepted human right to this day. I am happy to contribute to the dissemination of freedom of speech with the museum,” Dunnigan said in a statement.

“Estonia is an ideal place for such a project, because here we can present books that are still banned in so many big countries.”

The museum is open every Friday and Saturday from 11 AM to 6 PM.

Cover: Founder Joseph Maximillian Dunnigan at his museum of forbidden literature.

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