Museum Activism

Hello all, apologies for the lack of recent updates, I’ve been busy with our big Christmas exhibition (our most successful ever!) and the Clive Jenkins exhibition, I’ll blog about the launch event when I get a moment.

Just a quickie to note that a new volume Museum Activism edited by Richard Sandell and Robert R. Janes is now out. I am delighted to have a chapter in it called ‘Heritage and Queer Activism’, outlining some of the work we have done with LGBTQ+ communities at Sutton House. It was really nice to be able to reflect back over the last few years, and on my PhD thesis when writing this. I hope it will prove enlightening, or at least interesting to those of you in the heritage field. I can’t wait to read all of the other chapters, there is a huge wealth of museum innovators.

You can buy the book here (or forward the link to your librarian to buy!) and there is a discount code for 20% off on the banner below, so make sure to order your copy now!

‘Sex Museums: The Politics and Performance of Display’ review

Hello all, just a quick post today- I’m currently at the bitter end of thesis writing, hence my inactivity on the blog.

Some great news though, I have got the job of Community Learning Manager at the National Trust’s Sutton House in Hackney, where I have volunteered since starting my PhD, and is the central site I look at in my thesis. I start in September, and I’m so excited to be part of such a great team in such a radical and important National Trust house!

I have written a review of Jennifer Tyburczy’s Sex Museums: The Politics and Performance of Display for the Histsex, H-Net Reviews site. You can read the review here, or there is a printable PDF version here. A really great book, and very timely for my thesis!


LGBTQ oral his- and her-stories essay

‘Collecting the contemporary: a handbook for social history museums’ edited by Owain Rhys and Zelda Baveystock is out now. In it is an essay I contributed called ‘Let’s talk about sexuality: capturing, collecting and disseminating LGBTQ oral his- and her-stories’.

Here’s the blurb about it from the editors’ introduction:
Sean Curran assesses how LGBTQ history has been represented in the past, and how this is changing, especially through the collection of oral histories. He argues that although museums have recently been collecting and exhibiting LGBTQ associated objects, they have relied on stereotypical dimensions, such as “persecution, victimisation, visibility, sex and partying, without any physical record of the more domestic and every-day aspects of LGBTQ life”. Oral histories, therefore, provide an invaluable opportunity for museums to capture the hidden elements of everyday life which objects cannot, and can be used to reinterpret objects already in the collection, or to inform future collecting. It is also, he suggests, an opportunity to experiment with presenting these stories in gallery contexts, through art installations, performance, or participatory interaction.
Request that your library buys the book, there’s a huge range of very current essays and case studies.

Collecting the contemporary

Just a quick post to mention this upcoming publication, Collecting the contemporary: recording the present for the future, by MuseumsEtc, which features a chapter by my entitled ‘Let’s Talk About Sexuality: Capturing, Collecting and Disseminating LGBTQ Oral His- and Her-stories’, in which I ruminate the challenges specific to the gathering and displaying of queer oral histories in museum spaces. The book is edited by Owain Rhys and Zelda Baveystock.

Collecting the contemporary aims to address (amongst others) these questions:

  • How best should we engage with contemporary collecting? 
  • Should we collect to fill gaps in the existing collection? 
  • How best to record modern urban life? 
  • How might we best engage with minority communities? 
  • Should we aim to link past and present?

There is a special pre-publication offer of 15% discount if you order it now, so request your librarians to buy it!