Photo credit @civema on twitter.
Photo credit @civema on twitter.
Lots to see.
Lots to see.
The Warren Cup, silver stemmed drinking cup, Palestine, c .AD 10 © The Trustees of the British Museum.
The Warren Cup, silver stemmed drinking cup, Palestine, c .AD 10 © The Trustees of the British Museum.

Desire, Love, Identity: Exploring LGBTQ Histories at the British Museum, London

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The British Museum’s newest exhibition is reviewed by Kids in Museums volunteer Chloe Turner who found it an accessible introduction to LGBTQ stories. 

The museum historically concentrates its attention on the distant past but new this summer is the temporary exhibition titled Desire, Love, Identity: Exploring LGBTQ Histories.

The history of sexuality may not strike visitors as particularly suitable for children, but this exhibition matches many of our Manifesto points.

Point 3. Share stories with each other. This exhibition opens up a safe space to talk about LGBTQ histories and current issues in as much or as little detail as feels appropriate. There is not an age restriction on entering the exhibition, and rightfully so. Although there are nude images, they are only the same as the permanent objects elsewhere in the museum. Equally, as being in an LGBTQ relationship at the time of the object’s creation was so hidden, all the objects are subtle in their sexual nature.

Point 4. Reach beyond, welcoming new audiences. Surrounded by ancient antiquities, the LGBTQ community could understandably feel like their stories are hidden from the history. However, this exhibition, along with the enlightening trail, sheds light on little-known objects and welcomes little-acknowledged audiences.

Point 5. Chat online. The conversation can be continued online, following the #LGBTQ_BM hashtag. The exhibition asks its visitors to help with the “ongoing exploration of LGBTQ narratives in the collection by submitting photographs or by sharing your thoughts using #LGBTQ_BM.” Currently, the hashtag is a wonderful thread of visitors sharing their favourite stories, objects, and artworks.

Point6. Be aware of different families’ needs. Desire, Love, Identity: Exploring LGBTQ Histories is wheelchair accessible, varied in content, and understandable regardless of previous knowledge. The exhibition is even accessible for visitors unable to physically come to the British Museum, with a great Google Arts & Culture page to explore from home.

There’s a museum wide trail linked to this exhibition that goes through many of the British Museum’s stunning rooms and permanent collection.

Based on Richard B Parkinson’s book a Little Gay History – Desire and Diversity Across the World, the trail spotlights LGBTQ objects such as The Warren Cup from the Roman Empire (my favourite object in the 100 Objects series) right up until the N’domo mask from 20th Century Africa.

2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act in July 1967, and Desire, Love, Identity is a powerful celebration of that. Discovering and sharing hidden LGBTQ stories is an increasing part of museums’ offer, with many other infamous galleries like the Victoria and Albert also paving the way.

Desire, Love, Identity is an exciting, engaging and diverse exhibition of otherwise often hidden histories. With the vastly wide range of objects, it brings a new sense of life to the British Museum.

Desire, love, identity: exploring LGBTQ histories, runs at the British Museum until 15th October 2017.

Entrance to the museum and exhibition: free.

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