No Homo? : Heteronormativity and LGBTQ content in London Art Museums

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Institutionen för ABM

Abstract:

Purpose - This thesis investigates how London art museums work to deconstruct heteronormative filters. The aim is to study how museums relate to LGBTQ content, and the influence of internal power structures. I have chosen to focus on the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Wallace Collection, and the British Museum. 

Method - To answer my questions, I interview eight individuals who work with LGBTQ content in museums. I am also doing some activity-based observations during several LGBT History month events.

Analysis - The qualitative data collected through interviews and observations will be analyzed and presented in case studies. I apply an intersectional perspective, and a critical theoretical method, encompassing queer theory.

Findings - The findings show that museums are slowly incorporating more LGBTQ content and perspectives. This may be due to changing social norms as well as a conscious effort to address various target audiences to diversify visitor demographics. The current focus is on visibility. Ideally, this will encourage updating terminol- ogy in databases and galleries, staff training, policies explicitly supporting LGBTQ content and LGBTQ staff, increased online presence, publications, and community co-creation, to name some aspects. Museums still think of LGBTQ interpretation as optional. People often work with these efforts in their spare time. Increasingly, the legacy of these events is being evaluated, as well as how museum terminology can become more inclusive. There are no coordinated efforts shared by the museums, but they often look to each other for inspiration. 

Originality/value - Previous research on LGBTQ museum projects has not evaluated their legacy. There hasn't been any particular focus on LGBTQ perspectives in art museums. I am taking into account aspects of gender and queer theory, discussing the act of labelling as a means to exercise power through language.

Paper type - Two years master's thesis in Archive, Library and Museum studies. 

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