Preserving our LGBT history is important. Only a handful of LGBT museums are doing this good work, so it important to support the organizations and institutions that are archiving our queer histories so we can continually reflect upon our past in modern times.
In honor of International Museum Day, we’ve rounded up 10 museums that should be on the radar of all LGBT people. From a museum about the AIDS epidemic to a museum dedicated to one of the queerest artists of all time, our list of LGBT museums includes different aspects of the queer experience.
1. Leslie+Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art – New York, New York
The world’s first museum dedicated to LGBTQ art, the Leslie+Lohman Museum was founded as a non-profit organization in 1987 by Charles Leslie and Fritz Lohman, who collected work from LGBTQ artists for decades.
Its permanent collection includes work by Catherine Opie, Robert Mapplethorpe and Andy Warhol. Today, the Museum has a collection of more than 24,000 works and an archive that contains information on 1,900 other LGBTQ artists, making it one of the LGBT museums with the largest collection ever of queer art.
2. The GLBT History Museum – San Francisco, California
The GLBT Historical Society maintains an extensive collection of archival materials, artifacts and graphic arts relating to the history of LGBT people in the United States, with a focus on the LGBT communities of San Francisco and Northern California.
The society also sponsors the GLBT History Museum, a stand-alone museum that has attracted international attention. Its permanent exhibition includes erotica and significant moments in the city’s LGBT history.
3. Schwules Museum – Berlin, Germany
The Schwules Museum has been open since 1985, and has been a pioneering force in the art of recording and exhibiting on LGBT life. Originally located above an LGBT nightclub, it’s now got its own dedicated building in the suburb of Kreuzberg, Berlin, and houses an archives, a library and a collection of art.
4. Andy Warhol Museum – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Leaving an indelible mark on queer culture as well as the art world, Andy Warhol’s museum is the largest museum dedicated to a single artist in the United States.
Located on the North Shore of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where Warhol grew up, the museum holds an extensive permanent collection of art and archives featuring 900 paintings, close to 2,000 works on paper, over 1,000 published unique prints, 77 sculptures, 4,000 photographs and over 4,350 Warhol films and videotaped works — a must visit for any pop art fan.
5. World AIDS Museum and Educational Center – Wilton Manors, Florida
The World AIDS Museum and Educational Center began as a HIV support group, Pozitive Attitudes, at the Pride Center in Fort Lauderdale. The doors to the museum officially opened to the public in May 2014. Today, the space holds a main gallery featuring the historical timeline of the HIV epidemic, two art galleries and a research library. It’s one of the only LGBT museums wholly dedicated to the epidemic.
6. Leather Archives and Museum – Chicago, Illinois
A 10,000 square foot archive and museum dedicated to “the compilation, preservation, and maintenance of leather, kink, and fetish lifestyles,” the archives house historical documents and pieces covering a broad umbrella of kink and fetishes over centuries — from a 170-year-old whip to printed leather personal ads from before the ’90s era internet.
7. The Australian Gay and Lesbian Archives – Melbourne, Australia
The Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives (ALGA) is a community-based non-profit organization committed to the collection, preservation and celebration of material reflecting the lives and experiences of LGBTI Australians.
Located in Melbourne, the collection has grown to over 150,000 items, constituting the largest and most significant collection of material relating to LGBT Australians and the largest collection of LGBT material in the continent.
8. ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives – Los Angeles, California
Located at the University of South California, the ONE archives boast that they’re “the largest repository of LGBTQ materials in the world.” Collecting materials since 1952 when ONE Magazine was founded as the first national magazine devoted exclusively to LGBT lifestyle, today it’s a research archive with vast resources for historians researching the gay rights movement and other important parts of U.S. LGBT culture.
9. Lesbian Herstory Archives – Brooklyn, New York
The Lesbian Herstory Archives grew out of the Stonewall Riots and subsequently out of the Gay Academic Union, when several women in the organization decided the issues of sexism within the gay community weren’t properly being addressed.
First located in the Upper West Side home of one of the Manhattan-based co-founders, author Joan Nestle, the archives moved to its current location in Brooklyn in the early 1990s. Today, it’s home to the largest collection of materials curated by lesbians and about lesbians.
10. United States Holocaust Museum – Washington, D.C.
The Nazis persecuted homosexuals as part of their so-called moral crusade to racially and culturally purify Germany. They targeted gay men for persecution because they viewed gay men as carriers of a “contagion” that weakened society and did not contribute to the growth of the “Aryan” population.
The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum helps honor those we lost by documenting part of this history. The USHMM’s collections contain more than 12,750 artifacts, 49 million pages of archival documents, 80,000 historical photographs, 200,000 registered survivors, 1,000 hours of archival footage, 84,000 library items and 9,000 oral history testimonies.