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London is getting the nation’s first LGBTQ+ museum

Written by
Rosemary Waugh

From big hitters like the Natural History Museum to more niche outlets like the London Canal Museum, London is a city with a soft spot for institutions pickling and preserving the past. But whilst surgeons, cinemas, soft toys and Sigmund Freud are all represented on the cultural circuit, one major part of Britain’s history has so far been left without a permanent home - and now that’s set to change. Queer Britain: The Nation’s LGBTQ+ Museum plans to throw open its doors in 2021. Here’s what we know about it so far:

It’s a family affair

Maud married Bert and gave birth to Gerald is the normal (and dull) face of family history. Queer Britain has its sights set on something more interesting than your second cousin thrice removed in Nova Scotia. One of their first projects will be constructing a massive family tree linking together the UK’s queer history.  

‘Queer’ is their word of choice

Language is important to the LGBTQ+ community, and Queer Britain have chosen their name carefully, believing ‘queer’ to be the only truly inclusive word for all the different people they want to represent. Proudly used by many people today, the word was previously bandied around as a Victorian-era insult to Oscar Wilde (more on him later).

All are welcome

Queer Britain is on the hunt for stories: lots and lots and lots of them. It aims to be a giant sponge of an archive, soaking up the memories of queer people of all ages, backgrounds, sexualities and genders. The organisers want to shake-up the writing of LGBTQ+ history, filling it out with voices from everyone, everywhere. 

It’s going to keep on growing

Along with a permanent collection, Queer Britain will host a sparkling schedule of temporary exhibitions. The people running the project have already started trawling museums, archives and personal collections with magpie-like eyes trained on items relating to queer history.

The organisers like a themed party

On February 28, Queer Britain was launched with a party at Hotel Cafe Royal in - where else? - the Oscar Wilde Lounge. Guests at the event included Tom Daley, Dustin Lance Black, Jack Guinness. Nakhane Touré and the Sheriff of London, Tim Hailes. Mayor Sadiq Khan has also endorsed Queer Britain, looking forward to cutting the red (or rainbow) ribbon.

Queer Britain is scheduled to open in 2021. In the meantime, why not check out our list of the top ten art exhibitions to see in London.

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