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Pride (2014)

The UK is getting its first LGBTQ+ museum

Queer Britain has secured a home in King’s Cross for an exhibition dedicated to the past, present, and future of the queer community

From the history of anaesthesia, to novelty automation, to the female reproductive system, London has all sorts of museums to spend your Sunday afternoons exploring – so it’s kind of wild that the UK is only just getting its first LGTBQ+-focused museum in 2022. But, after four years of planning and Covid-related delays, the space is ready to throw open its doors and tell the rich and diverse history of queer issues.

This Spring, Queer Britain is set to occupy a historic space in King’s Cross owned by the charity Art Fund. The fully accessible museum will be located on the ground floor of 2 Granary Square and entry will be free, with Queer Britain accepting donations to support its work. It will have four gallery spaces, a gift shop, plus office facilities, later to be followed by education and workshop spaces.

While the organisers aren’t revealing any details about specific exhibits and programmes just yet, the museum promises a place to “explore and learn about the past, present, and future stories that the queer community is steeped in”.

“LGBTQ+ communities have been crying out for this for decades, and it will be for everyone,” director, co-founder, and former editor of Gay Times, Joseph Galliano, tells Dazed. “I feel immensely gratified at all the support I’ve had in getting this up and running. I feel a huge weight of responsibility but also massively privileged to drive forward something I believe in so deeply and passionately.”

“I want people to be able to look back so that they can better understand who they are today and how we got here,” he continues, “and so that together we can all imagine a best of all possible futures – and that is LGBTQ+ people as well as our heterosexual counterparts.”

Speaking in 2018, Galliano was keen for the museum’s focus to go beyond gay men. “If you think about (Black, Asian, and ethnic minority) people, women, and trans people’s stories, which were prioritised even less than the men’s stories, than that’s a wealth of untold material,” he said. On a practical, albeit emotional level, he was keen for the museum to be a place where someone who has just come out to their parent can visit “so they can both understand a bit more about each other”.

I’d like to thank all the people who said it was impossible, others had not managed to do it, et cetera,” trustee Lisa Power MBE, tells Dazed. “You gave us the determination to make it happen despite Covid, austerity, and rising hate crime. And this is only the start!”

“(To open the UK’s first LGBTQ+ museum is) incredibly emotional, in a largely positive way, particularly as an older queer person, knowing that time is running out for capturing stories and insights gathered from people who have lived through a period of dizzying change and merrily messy adjustment,” trustee Robert Taylor adds.

Take a preview look at Queer Britain’s space below.