From the Natural History Museum to the V&A, the Museum of the Home to the Horniman, London’s museum offering is genuinely world class. But despite this city’s proclivity to open museums around everything from neoliberalism to vaginas, we haven’t ever had one focused on LGBTQ+ history. But it’s not just London that has been lacking in this department. The entire country has, too, which seems like a pretty big oversight when you consider how rich, diverse and endlessly fascinating Britain’s queer history is.
Which is why we were thrilled when a new charity called Queer Britain was founded back in 2018, with the aim of opening the country’s first-ever LGBTQ+ history museum.
After much anticipation following its four-year search for a suitable site, Queer Britain will open at 2 Granary Square on Thursday May 5. Located on the fully accessible ground floor level of the building, which is being leased to Queer Britain by national arts charity Art Fund, the museum will be an inclusive and free-entry space that welcomes everyone regardless of sexuality and gender identity, and celebrates ‘the stories, people and places that are intrinsic to queer community in the UK and beyond’.
The museum’s inaugural display has been moulded by Historic Royal Palaces curator and queer history specialist Matthew Storey. ‘Welcome to Queer Britain’ is a small, temporary collection of photographs and artefacts from the growing Queer Britain archive. These will be displayed alongside artwork by Sadie Lee and Paul Harfleet, the top two entrants into Queer Britain’s inaugural Madame Prize, an art award on the theme of Queer Creativity sponsored by Madame F wines. ‘Welcome to Queer Britain’ will be open for eight weeks as an introduction to the charity and its mission while the team prepares the museum’s first full-scale exhibition for a summer opening.
The space is wheelchair accessible and entry is free – everyone is welcome: those who identify as part of the community and those who don’t. It’s a key addition to London’s cultural scene. ‘It’s incredibly important for us to show the breadth of the LGBTQ+ community as well as its intersections,’ says Joseph Galliano, the museum’s director. ‘The queer community is nothing when it doesn’t include trans, non-binary, POC, disabled or older siblings. Intersectionality and inclusivity have been and always will be at the heart of queer Britain.’
Already planning your trip to see it? Pay a visit to the Queer Britain website for more information about the museum’s grand opening and inaugural exhibition. We can’t wait!
And in the meantime, read our love letter to London’s LGBTQ+ venues.
Or check out these weird and wonderful museums in London.