Charity organisation Queer Britain are aiming to launch the UK’s first national LGBT+ museum with an immersive experience.
A campaign was launched in 2018 to establish the museum, receiving support from the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan. He said an LGBT+ museum would “shine a light on to its communities’ rich and complex history.”
Speaking to Buzzfeed, CEO of the campaign and former editor of Gay Times, Joseph Galliano, detailed the importance of preserving and showcasing LGBT+ history, “It’s a gap in the nation’s understanding of itself and if we don’t rescue it now then that gap will not be filled.”
Overseeing the project, a board of trustees and advisors was established, which includes: the co-founder of Stonewall, Lisa Power; chief operating officer of London South Bank University, Ian Mehrtens; former director of the National Portrait Gallery, Sandy Nairne; the first out gay MP, Lord Chris Smith; and managing partner at Ernst and Young, Liz Bingham. Queer Britain have been surveying museums, archives, and personal collections with the goal of understanding the UK’s queer history already in circulation.
Galliano further stated, “The history [of LGBT people] has been recorded in a very piecemeal way and if you just take men, the most visible part of the community, the pre-1960’s generation is ageing, we’re losing those stories and a lot were already hidden. If you think about BAME [black, Asian, and other ethnic minority] people, women, and trans people’s stories, which were prioritised even less than the men’s stories, than that’s a wealth of untold material.”
During Pride Month 2019, Queer Britian: the National LGBT+ Museum had a soft launch with an exhibition called ‘Chosen Family’. Levi provided funding and support for the set up. Along with a photographic series, there was a sign which read “leave your mark” as a way of encouraging people to write messages and stick them on the wall.
Speaking about his hopes for the museum, Galliano said, “I want it to be somewhere that people can see themselves reflected and validated in the heart of the culture, in a confident, mainstream institution. A space that makes people feel good about who they are. If you can show people the different possibilities that have existed in the past – and all the things they can be – they can imagine the future more clearly.”
Queer Britain are still searching for a permanent venue to hold exhibitions, create immersive experiences, and highlight LGBT+ history. As Galliano said, “In literature, in sport, in art, in engineering, in science, there is no aspect of life in Britain in which LGBTQ people have not had an influence. It is time their stories were told and celebrated.”
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