Digital project showcases Edinburgh’s LGBTQ+ heritage - Museums Association

Digital project showcases Edinburgh’s LGBTQ+ heritage

Partnership with Museums & Galleries Edinburgh will continue
Heritage LGBTQ+
White man with glasses and denim shirt looks through paper records in museum store
Project lead Rowan Rush-Morgan at work in the Museum Collections Centre

The digital exhibition Our Rainbow Past: LGBTQ+ objects from Edinburgh has launched on the Our Town Stories platform.

It is a partnership project between Museums & Galleries Edinburgh and Rowan Rush-Morgan, a PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh, to make digital object records more accessible for audiences and to share key objects in a digital exhibition.

The project, which is funded by the Scottish Graduate School of Arts & Humanities, focuses on the Remember When? oral and community history project, which collected objects from 2004 to 2006.

Run jointly by the City of Edinburgh Council and the Living Memory Association and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the City of Edinburgh Council and Lesbian & Gay Switchboard, the project documented the lives and achievements of Edinburgh's LGBT people, past and present.

The project involved over 60 volunteers, culminating in the 2006 exhibition Rainbow City, shown at the City Art Centre, and a book of the same name. Part of the project involved collecting LGBT memorabilia, which was then added to the collections of Museums & Galleries Edinburgh.


The collection includes posters, magazines, t-shirts, badges, and larger items including the distinctive hand painted sign of Lavender Menace, the first LGBT bookshop in Scotland. The collections are stored at the Museum Collections Centre in Broughton.

Val Walker, culture and communities convener at Edinburgh Council, said: “Museums & Galleries Edinburgh is proud to reflect our diverse communities in our venues, events and exhibitions. Partnership projects like Rowan’s enable us to access expertise, which helps us and our visitors to see our collections in a new light. The important contribution of the LGBTQ+ community to Edinburgh is showcased brilliantly in the new digital exhibition. We plan to keep collecting objects that tell the story of LGBTQ+ Edinburgh, and to keep sharing them with our visitors.

“We’re so excited to be able to share some of the most iconic objects from our LGBTQ+ collection online. New photography has really brought the objects to life, while Rowan’s research has added depth to the stories. Anyone with an interest in the LGBTQ+ life of Edinburgh and how far we’ve come in the journey towards equality and inclusion will love the exhibition.”

Rowan Rush-Morgan, project lead and PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh, said: “The Remember When? project was groundbreaking at the time, bringing together objects, archives and interviews to give a complete picture of LGBTQ+ life in Edinburgh.

“My placement was designed to make sure the collections database uses the correct terminology to allow researchers and the public to search for the stories from the collection important to them. We also wanted to highlight some of the star objects in an online exhibition, which was great fun to put together.”

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