HISTORY OF MDHAC
Founded as Kansas Educational Foundation, on March 25, 1988, after a group of Deaf and Hearing Kansans noticed that a brand-new highway sign on I-35 in Olathe, KS showing the location of the Kansas School for the Deaf (KSD) had prompted a big increase in the number of people stopping by KSD to ask for information about others associated with the school in addition to information about Deaf history or culture. This inspired this group to consider ideas of establishing a space.
In 1992, Kansas Educational Foundation became incorporated and expanded on ideas to establish a resource center across the street from KSD to meet this need of meeting public inquiries and sharing information. This garnered strong support from the City of Olathe and the Kansas Heritage Trust. Designing the building followed and fund raising projects took place. Groundbreaking ceremonies took place on December 16, 1995. Construction of the building started in September of 2000 and was completed in June of 2001 which included a total square footage at 6,000 sq. ft. The purchase of the land was $240,000 and the total construction cost was $794,000, all of which has been completely paid off.
The doors first opened to the public on September 29, 2001 with museum exhibitions following in 2005. The Kansas Educational Foundation renamed later as Deaf Cultural Center Foundation in 2009 when the Board felt the name would better fit it's role as a center of resources and social events. The name was changed again in 2017 to Museum of Deaf History, Arts & Culture, Inc. (MDHAC) as the Board looked to expand its horizons beyond Olathe, KS to better showcase the vibrant history, arts, language, and culture of Deaf people.
William J. Marra dedicated his life to the collection and preservation of information and relics related to *Deaf people. Marra was born and raised in Kansas City, Kansas, and graduated from both the Kansas State School for the Deaf and Gallaudet University. He was a teacher at the Kansas School for the Deaf for 38 years, retiring in 1976.
The first William J. Marra Museum at the Kansas School for the Deaf was dedicated on September 20, 1986, and has been a source of pride for the Deaf community. The Museum of Deaf History, Arts & Culture® (first named as Kansas Educational Foundation for the Deaf) was pleased to dedicate the new William J. Marra Museum of Deaf History at the Museum of Deaf History, Arts & Culture® (formerly named Deaf Cultural Center after the KEF name).
William J. Marra is the recipient of the Kansas School for the Deaf Alumni Association's Alumni Dedication Award, the Gallaudet Universtiy Alumni Association's prestigious Laurent Clerc Award and the Kansas Association of the Deaf's Award for Meritorious Service.