We commemorate the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality this week with the opening of the exhibition Coming Out: Sexuality, Gender and Identity at the Walker Art Gallery. The exhibition brings together a diverse range of artists who have used their work to explore sexuality and gender identity since 1967. Join its Curator, Charlotte for some free tours this weekend.
As an organisation, National Museums Liverpool has long supported the LGBT+ community by delivering exhibitions and events, as well as working with community groups and individuals. Before Coming Out, there was April Ashley: Portrait of a lady and Dry your eyes princess at the Museum of Liverpool, and exhibitions by John Kirby, as well as David Hockney at the Walker Art Gallery. Performance artist and actor David Hoyle has reinterpreted the Walker’s collections on several occasions, shedding a Queer eye and broadening the understanding of works with his unique take. And then there is Hello Sailor: Gay life on the ocean wave which opened at Merseyside Maritime Museum in 2008, and continues to be a popular gallery today. It looks at life on board passenger and merchant ships from the 1950s to 1980s; a time when homosexuality was illegal and for gay men there were few places to be safe. We blogged recently about National Museums Liverpool LGBT+ legacy, read it here.
Undoubtedly, as the Pride and Prejudice: bringing stories out of the closet online research project shows, we have long held objects in our collections that are explicitly LGBT+ or implicit, as do all other museums and galleries the world over. National Museums Liverpool is unique, in that funding has enabled us over the past two years to re-assess collections held at the Museum of Liverpool and our art galleries to bring out the stories that firmly highlight their LGBT+ connections. In doing so, visitors gain a greater understanding of the contribution LGBT+ people have made to art and culture throughout history.
The methodology for the project that informs what can or can’t be interpreted in an LGBT+ context, will help other cultural organisations better understand their collections when it is made available later this year. Similarly, it’s not something that ends when the funding runs out. The way we curate and interpret new objects has been forever changed. Check out the new LGBT+ trail of objects included in Pride and Prejudice that visitors can see on display when visiting the Museum of Liverpool and art galleries.
Back to Coming Out – its opening coincides with Liverpool Pride, the city’s two day LGBT+ festival taking place in and around William Brown Street and the St George’s Quarter. We will be participating in the march around the city centre (check the Liverpool Pride link for timings and route), look out for the National Museums Liverpool banner. Also, don’t forget to drop in and see us and, if you are planning to march, have a safe, brilliant and happy Pride!
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