Sunday, 24 January 2016

Leeds Queer Stories / Museums & Communities

Following this week's MOOC from Future Learn, "Behind the scene of the 21st century museum" by University of Leicester and National Museums Liverpool, and its reflections on community groups and their place in the museum I would like to talk about the "Leeds Queer Stories" displays at Leeds City MuseumLeeds Queer Stories is part of the Arts Council England funded project within Leeds Museums and Galleries to engage with new audiences and has emerged from the successful Leeds Art Gallery queer cultural project PoMoGaze. 

Leeds Queer Stories Flyer
Leeds Queer Stories Flyer 

Leeds City Museum is a Community and Social History museum, by this I mean that people from Leeds can easily understand and relate to this museum as it tells their stories. Last October, a new display created by two community curators, Marek Romaniszyn and Jude Woods, opened at the museum. These displays were not only the work of curators but also of a community group, Queer Stories, which aims to collect stories and promote Leeds LGBT*IQ history and communities.  

Leeds Queer Stories Health Display
Leeds Queer Stories Health Display
Leeds Queer Story  Disability  and Political Display
Leeds Queer Story
Disability
and Political Display



This initiative has proven to be popular and volunteers collected objects from the community in order to exhibit them at the museum. 
Working with community groups can be perceived as challenging by museums but as Sheila Watson's article in this week's MOOC,"Community Collaboration", points out it is also essential if museums want to reflect their city and its inhabitants.


Leeds Queer Stories Lesbian Display
Leeds Queer Stories Lesbian Display 

Displays at Leeds City Museum were created as glimpses into the LGBT*IQ history past and present, most of the items are from Leeds and reflect people's lives in this city. Some cases reflect political challenges but most of them show the diversity and fun within the community. The curators let the objects speak for themselves, only a few words are written on the side to briefly explain the content of the display. The most eye-catching display is the one on entertainment and sports, which includes a beautiful costume along with posters and badges from the 80s. As said political and social issues are also at the heart of the display, showcasing how hard the community has fought inequality. For instance, posters promoting disability in the workplace or women rights zines are shown. 


Leeds Queer Stories Political Display

Leeds Queer Stories Political Display
Leeds Queer Stories Political Display 

Also, visitors are invited to share their own Queer story. Leeds has really powerful and interesting stories, and museums are here to tell these stories and welcome everyone. Most items are personal and belong to someone in Leeds who has allowed the museum to exhibit them. The public has a chance to glimpse at someone's life and learn from it.  
Exhibition open until 15th May 2016 

Leeds Queer Stories Entertainment and Leisure Display
Leeds Queer Stories Entertainment and Leisure Display


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