1st Edition

Museums, Sexuality, and Gender Activism

Edited By Joshua Adair, Amy K. Levin Copyright 2020
    324 Pages 20 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    324 Pages 20 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Museums, Sexuality, and Gender Activism examines the role of exhibitionary institutions in representing LGBTQ+ people, cisgender women, and nonbinary individuals. Considering recent gender and sexuality-related developments through a critical lens, the volume contributes significantly to the growing body of activist writing on this topic.

    Building on Gender, Sexuality and Museums and featuring work from established voices, as well as newcomers, this volume offers risky and exciting articles from around the world. Chapters cover diverse topics, including transgender representation, erasure, and activism; two-spirit people, indigeneity, and museums; third genders; gender and sexuality in heritage sites and historic homes; temporary exhibitions on gender and sexuality; museum representations of HIV/AIDS; interventions to increase queer visibility and inclusion in galleries; LGBTQ+ staff alliances; and museums, gender ambiguity, and the disruption of binaries. Several chapters focus on areas outside the US and Europe, while others explore central topics through the perspectives of racial and ethnic minorities.

    Containing contributions that engage in sustained critique of current policies, theory, and practice, Museums, Sexuality, and Gender Activism is essential reading for those studying museums, women and gender, sexuality, culture, history, heritage, art, media, and anthropology. The book will also spark interest among museum practitioners, public archivists, and scholars researching related topics.

    List of Illustrations


    I. Frameworks

    1. Introduction: Museums, Sexuality, and Gender Activism, Amy K. Levin
    2. Chicana Feminism, Anzalduian Borderland Practices, and Critiques of Museology, Amanda K. Figueroa
    3. Warning! Heteronormativity: A Question of Ethics, Nikki Sullivan and Craig Middleton
    4. II. Dismantling the Master’s House?

      A. Major Institutions

    5. Sex and Sensitivities: Exhibiting and Interpreting Shunga at the British Museum Stuart Frost
    6. Activists on the Inside: the Victoria and Albert Museum LGBTQ Working Group, Zorian Clayton and Dawn Hoskin
    7. Remolding the Museum: In Residence at the V&A, Matt Smith
    8. B. Alternate Spaces

    9. Pop-up or Permanent? The Case of the Mardi Gras Museum, Tuan Nguyen
    10. Emptied, Displaced, Assimilated: Spatial Politics of Gender in Ankara Ulucanlar Prison Museum, Özge Kelekçi and Meral Akbaş.
    11. Death of a Museum Foretold? On Sexual Display in the Time of AIDS in India, Rovel Sequeira
    12. Lost Objects and Missing Histories: HIV/AIDS in the Netherlands, Manon S. Parry and Hugo Schalkwijk
    13. III. Bodies in the Museum?

      A. Indigenous Bodies

    14. Kent Monkman’s Shame and Prejudice: Artist Curation as Queer and Decolonial Practice, Ann Cvetkovich
    15. All that Moves Us: Bodies in Land, Camille Georgeson-Usher
    16. B. Bodies of Ambiguity

    17. The Future of Museological Display: Chitra Ganesh’s Speculative Encounters, Natasha Bissonauth
    18. Nonbinary Difference: Dionysus, Arianna, and the Fictive Arts of Museum Photography, Åsa Johannesson and Clair Le Couteur
    19. IV. Acts of Resistance

      A. Unruly Women

    20. The Absent History of Female Volunteers at the Art Gallery of Toronto, Irina D. Mihalache
    21. From Handmade Underwear to the Labor Movement: Women’s History at Digital Museum, Jana Sverdljuk
    22. Recording Change: Collecting the Irish Abortion Rights Referendum, 2018, Brenda Malone
    23. B. Problematic Narratives

    24. Never Going Underground: Community Coproduction and the Story of LGBTQ+ Rights, Catherine O'Donnell
    25. Curating Gertrude Stein: Identity Politics in the Exhibition Catalogue, Hayden Hunt
    26. "[A] Battlefield All their Own": Selling Women’s Fictions as Fact at Plantation Museums, Joshua G. Adair
    27. V. Thinking Outside the Binary Box

    28. On Gender Fluidity and Photographic Portraiture, Michael Petry
    29. Never A Small Project: Welcoming Transgender Communities into the Museum, Mirjam Sneeuwloper, Amy Levin, Colline Horstink, and Yvo Manuel Vas Dias
    30. "A Museum Can Never Be Queer Enough": The Van Abbemuseum as a Testing Ground for Institutional Queering, Anne Rensma, Daniel Neugebauer, and Olle Lundin
    31. Conclusion, Joshua G. Adair




    Joshua G. Adair is an associate professor of English at Murray State University, where he also serves as coordinator of Gender & Diversity Studies. Adair’s work, whether in literary, historical, or museum studies, examines the ways we narrate – and silence – gender and sexuality; it has appeared in over fifty scholarly and creative nonfiction journals.

    Amy K. Levin served as Director of Women’s Studies, Coordinator of Museum Studies, and Chair of English at Northern Illinois University for twenty-one years before beginning a new career as an independent scholar in 2016. Most recently, she was a visiting professor in Public History at the University of Amsterdam in fall 2017.

    "This wonderfully eclectic and engaging book discusses a huge variety of innovative practices – and it will sustain and push forward the shared enterprise of creating queer and feminist museum spaces." – Alison Oram, Leeds Beckett University, UK

    "Wide-ranging, forceful and keyed to our moment, this book has an unabashed political agenda: to make the museum safe for the depiction of sexual, cultural and gender difference. In so doing, it’s alive to the irony that a site of exploration and education is so often in reality merely a place for the reproduction of dominant ideologies. Through a series of case studies, this book sketches an alternative path." – Jonathan D. Katz, University at Buffalo, USA

    "To sum up, the book is a precious companion that offers valuable insights into what has happened and what is happening in the field of sexuality and gender activism in museums. It contains many resources in its comprehensive bibliography and weblinks (to articles, projects, artists, archives. etc.) and is a useful tool for those wishing to immerse themselves in the theme. With Museums, Sexuality and Gender Activism, editors and authors are filling the gap between academic and activist writing and offering scholarly insight, analytical tools, inspiration and concrete examples not only to students and scholars, but also to practitioners working in museums, galleries, archives and libraries." --Silvia Gaetti, Sehepunkte Journal, Germany

    'This important book offers nuanced, exciting and timely insight into a broad range of concerns around museums, sexuality and gender activism and suggests questions and topics for future research. […] Perhaps the book’s most significant contribution to the field is the questions it raises for future collaboration of the museum community and the LGBTQ+ community.'Robin Ostow, Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada.  Museum and Society Journal, July 2021 issue.

    'The anthology places itself firmly in this tradition of "audible public demands, heightened governmental scrutiny, an increasingly diverse and outward-looking workforce" (57) in museums. As such it offers rich possibilities for the reader to engage with museums and gender activism, preferably in combination. Since the book is so rich in details it is easy to see how it can be used as a hands-on guide when working in/with museums and in building exhibitions. The fact that this book is a follow-up for its predecessor is also a reminder of the importance of learning from and building on previous experiences.'

    ~Nina Nyman, Queer Eye Reviews

    "The real strength of the book is its polyvocality achieving its goal to include the voices of as many participants in the discourse as possible in collecting articles from artists, curators, scholars and community representatives. The editors underline their openness to others' voices, experiences, and realities, since the very nature of their work and the understanding of museums demands plural perspectives (5), while acknowledging that the voices represented are just a few of those they would have wished to include […]."

    ~ Silvia Gaetti, Rezension von

    "The writings in Museums, Sexuality, and Gender Activism exemplify practices and the necessary groundwork for what an inclusive museum can be. A good number of these ‘de-practices’ demonstrate a new definition of museums engaging in social diversity and gender activism. A dialogue about this inclusive museology is still ongoing. The intended readership is very wide. This book not only invites museum practitioners, curators, archivists, and educators but also appeals to students and researchers in museology, heritage studies, art history, gender studies, race studies, and queer theory."

    ~ Liang-Kai Yu, Leiden University Centre for Arts in Society


    "This was a huge success – I have never experienced students engaging and debating that much – the group was international and while some had never encountered such issues as queerness, MeToo, etc. and in a university setting before, others were arguing for the post-gendered society. The students were especially interested in your discussion on whether or not to "out" artists posthumously."

    ~ Randi Marselis, Roskilde University, Denmark