Inan Khan
Cultural Event Paper
Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art
I decided to visit the Leslie-Lohman Museum because it seemed like the best location to
obtain a positive insight into the lesbian and gay communities. I looked into a lot of other places
but decided on this one because I feel like artwork is one of the best mediums to express yourself
and your passion if you happen to be lesbian or gay. Art over the ages has evolved to represent
many different things. In the modern era, art boils down to an attempt in trying to elicit a
response from the audience or viewer. Over a lot of other topics and ideas, the concept of a
sexuality that is different from the norm can evoke a response in a lot of people, whether it be
surprise, respect, or unfortunately even disgust. Artwork itself does not care what the emotion is
but rather the fact that was able to evoke a response at all. My visit to the museum did exactly
that and gave me a lot of things to think about.
There were a lot of paintings and photography there from people of all type of sexualities.
A lot of photos and paintings capture the nude side of the human form, and embrace a sexually
charged message. To my surprise there were many different kinds of people there, some people
even very young, and it was interesting to see that these taboo images caught everyone’s
attention. If someone were to visit, you could tell that they don’t really babysit you, but still they
are accepting to people of all different walks of life. I learned upon my visit that the museum
recently had a change in management, to a new director who has started to focus on a more
diverse collection that had more non-white perspectives. This was interesting to me because to
me this implied that before this change in management, most of the artwork there portrayed
people of one specific race. This indeed was a positive direction for the museum because it is
important to have a very diverse array of artworks in order to have the largest outreach possible.
It is a fact that people are more likely to be open to a certain idea or concept if they tend to find
people they can connect with who also share those ideas. These changes in the museum are sure
to capture a larger audience.
When I asked around I also learned that the museum had a change in architecture. The
entrance area apparently was rebuilt to be a much larger area with an area for a bookstore on the
right. An attendant told me that this was a much needed change from the previous cluttered
entrance. In addition to this the museum has a new permanent collection area so that can always
be open to the public while the other areas can be changed to accommodate new installations.
Overall this news told me a lot of other things about the museum. It told me that the museum was
financially growing, and this could be due to many reasons. More people could be visiting the
museum or the museum could be receiving more funding. Whatever the case may be it suggests
that people appreciate lesbian and gay culture a lot more than in the previous decade.
The section that I spent the most time in was in the “Expanded visions: fifty years of
collecting.” This exhibition has almost 30,000 art pieces that are seperated in thematic sections.
These sections are divided in time periods and sexualities, which is apparently a major
improvement from before where the majority of the exhibitions focused on male homoeroticism.
The concept of what constitutes queer art changed over time since the beginning of the
museum’s opening. Because of this a timeline can be drawn with all the different artists that
contributed to the museum throughout its lifespan. Some names that I can remember are Jacques
Callot, Chitra Ganesh and Cobi Moules in chronological order. The overarching message of this
exhibition is that queerness can connect people of different races, genders and financial status. If
someone were to walk into this museum and witness the immense collection of queer artworks,
they are sure to experience a sense of family resonating within the museum.
Some very meaningful quotes that wrote down when I visited the museum are those from
Casals, a director of the museum. “Our gallery can be considered both a window and a mirror.If
you are not queer, it is a window because you can look around to understand others. But if you
are queer then you can explore your identity and see yourself in a lot of the works.” This quote I
felt was the best description of the purpose of the museum. A person directing a tour there said
that their main goal in the coming years is to educate people. Apparently most of their efforts and
labor have been dedicated to catering towards the adults and elderly that visit the museum. A
new direction that the museum is attempting to explore is creating youth programs that will bring
kids into the museum so they can learn about queer history and art. My first thoughts upon
hearing this was that “isn’t that weird? There’s a lot of sexually oriented content in here,” but
upon thinking about it further I realized there is much more to the queer lifestyle than just
copulation. There’s also identity, comradery, and intimacy.
Overall my visit to the museum was a very enlightening, learning experience. The future
of what the museum would become was the thing that interested me the most and it’s the what I
ended my trip with exploring. I learned that the museum had a lot of open office space for
multimedia work and performances in the future. The museums director himself said that he
wants to get the queer performance community involved in the museum’s future. I am excited to
see how the museum can deliver on this promise


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