Joseph Galliano is one of the co-founders of Queer Britain. Image: Richard Boll

Plans announced to create UK’s first LGBTQ+ museum

Geraldine Kendall Adams, 08.03.2018
Queer Britain museum to explore and celebrate LGTBQ+ lives
The UK’s first museum dedicated to LGBTQ+ history and culture is to open in London, it was announced last week.

Still in the early stages of development, the museum will be called Queer Britain: The National LGBTQ+ Museum. It is currently exploring funding options in both the public and private sectors, and has identified a potential site in south London, where it could open as early as 2021.

The museum has ambitions to house the world’s most extensive archive of LGBTQ+ stories and artefacts. It will explore the impact LGBTQ+ people have had on all aspects of society, including art, culture, history and science, featuring permanent and temporary exhibitions, as well as immersive digital technology and virtual reality experiences.

Plans are underway to survey museums and archives across the UK in order to uncover stories and objects in existing collections. The museum will also launch a national story-gathering campaign to find and record hidden histories, especially those of older generations that are in danger of being lost.

The museum's co-founder, the author and journalist Joseph Galliano, said he was keen to build on the momentum of last year’s 50th anniversary celebrations of the partial decriminalisation of homosexual acts.

While that landmark concerned male homosexuality, Galliano said the planned museum aimed to be “much more inclusive”, providing a platform for all voices under the LGBTQ+ umbrella, including lesbian, BAME and trans communities.

“It’s not just going to be talking about white male people who look like me,” said Galliano. “We’ll be putting together a diverse committee to make sure everybody is heard. There is a wealth of untapped resources out there.”

The museum is hoping to stage pop-up exhibitions and events in partnership with other institutions to increase its visibility while its bricks and mortar site is being developed.

“We want it to be mainstream and confident and visible,” said Galliano. “It’s not just a museum for LGBTQ+. It’s a museum for everybody.

“Tonally we won’t flinch from looking at the more painful aspects of LGBTQ+ history, but it will really be about celebration and role modeling – a place that people will be excited to go to.”

LGBTQ+ activists have strongly campaigned for a permanent UK home for queer history in recent years. Damien Arness Dalton, the joint founder of the Queerseum activist collective - which is not connected to the Queer Britain museum - welcomed the announcement.

Arness Dalton said: "Queerseum welcomes the news that our call to action for a home for untold LGBTQ+ stories has been heard. We’re pleased our two-year community-led, grassroots initiative to gather narratives from our past has been taken up and developed. So much needs to be done to enable transformative change through history to shape better futures. We are proud to have been part of this energy and driving force.

"We hope Queer Britain will serve and continue to build close relationships with our community and reach wider audiences to establish solid foundations to create an open dialogue for affirmation and learning."