The Short Story
In 2007 a group of museum professionals in Sweden got fed up with the fact that most museums neglect to tell the history of unstraight people and decided to do something about it. They initiated Article One, a collaborative exhibition with some of Sweden’s most prominent museums (such as The Army Museum, The Nobel Museum, The National Museum of Science and Technology, The Swedish History Museum and The Police Museum). Out of this sprung the idea of a new online museum focusing on collective gathering of unstraight history and stories, which in turn led to founding The Unstraight Museum in 2011.
The Long Story
The Unstraight Museum is a non-profit organization working to draw attention to LGBTQI related questions within the museum and exhibition context. The purpose is to make non-normative and unstraight stories and history visible through cultural projects. Our belief is that by doing so we strengthen both LGBTQI individuals and groups. This is how we think: individuals who are “invisible” or “don’t exist” can not demand any rights. And they will never be seen if their lives and stories aren’t represented. That’s why representation in key. Where is history represented if not in the collections of our shared museums? That’s right! This is why it’s so important to us to collect the unstraight history.
In the long run it’s also essential to be able to write your own history and collect the contemporary stories of a community, in our case the LGBTQI community. Therefore the heart of our work is our database of unstraight stories. It allows anyone to help define what unstraight is and to share their own stories, artifacts, images or objects. Our ambition is to create an online museum for everyone who feels excluded or neglected in the writing of our common history.
The great part is that all these stories can be found on our website as well as in the national K-samsök (e.g. Cultural Cross Search), a database used to search and retrieve data from any organization holding information or media relating to Swedish cultural heritage. K-samsök is also an aggregator to its European equivalent – Europeana. This means that our database is made available not only to Swedish organizers but also to international ones (at least European, but we’re thinking world wide). So by searching the Europeana database, you can find unstraight stories that have been posted on our website, alongside artworks from the great European cultural institutions. Historic bows and arrows, Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and an image of a person’s first dose of HIV medication, side by side, in the search result, making them equally valuable! We also encourage institutions to tag objects in their own collections with “unstraight”, giving a new perspective on history as well as making the artifacts show in our database.
In addition to collecting unstraight stories we also often collaborate with others, such as museums and LGBTQI activists with a significant interest and understanding for what we want to achieve. This has generated several different projects, please take a look at them under the headline “projects” to find out more. However, all these projects are made possible by an operating and engaged board of The Unstraight Museum. Based in Stockholm, Sweden but working both nationally as well as internationally. Above all, working where visibility is needed most and where the work effort can change the perception of unstraight. This has led to a large number of international undertakings since the world is a place to be made better!
The Unstraight Museum was founded in 2011, but it origins in the non-profit collaborative exhibition Article One initiated in 2007 by a group of museum professionals. The name Article One refers to the first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Although we’ve existed in various formats since 2007, our focus has always been the same – we continue to work with the same questions of human rights. During this relatively short time we’ve received a great deal of acknowledgement, which has strengthened our belief that we have a role to play.
Our membership in ICOM (International Council of Museums) means being accorded parity with other museums and we are very proud of having received an honorable mention for the exhibition Article One in 2013. We often get invited to hold workshops and presentations which gives us the opportunity to influence people. In June 2014, the organization Homotopia and the Museum of Liverpool borrowed our name for their two-day seminar: The Un-straight Museum Conference.
That’s it for now. We appreciate that you made time to read all of this. It would make us even happier if you would share your story or become a member of The Unstraight Museum. Thank you!
Become a Member
Do you like what The Unstraight Museum does? An annual membership only cost 100 Swedish krona (€ 10). You pay the fee through the service provided under Become a member or by paying to bankgiro 792-9086. Don’t forget to write your name and e-mail address in the notes field! If there’s limited space, please send us an e-mail with the details. Welcome as a member!