1st Edition

Museums, Sexuality, and Gender Activism

ISBN 9780367195106
Published February 5, 2020 by Routledge
324 Pages 20 B/W Illustrations

USD $44.95

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Book Description

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.

Table of Contents

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



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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