The Unstraight Museum is a developing online database of ‘collective[ly] collected […] unstraight objects’ that seeks to remedy the failure of (European) museums to collect, preserve and tell the hi/stories of LGBT peoples. Conceived in 2007 (and launched in 2011), it is run by a coalition of Swedish heritage professionals, museum lovers and members of the public, which tasked itself with:
– Collecting and documenting LGBT history in all its forms
– Cataloguing and creating open artefact databases
– Making all collected information available to the general public
– Working to encourage more museums to include a LGBT perspective in their collections.
Like the Pararchive project, then, it is a collaboration between heritage institutions and their publics, which explores the potential of ‘open’ collections to include different, and, previously, unheard or ignored voices and stories alongside mainstream narratives. The Unstraight Museum website attempts to do this by encouraging you to ‘Add your own object‘, a function that allow users to upload a representation of their artefact, plus blurbs abouts its history, why they are adding it, and, finally, what makes the artefact unstraight. The Unstraight Museum is set to integrate with Europeana shortly; it’ll be instructive to see how it knits together this pan-European digital database of museum collections with its existing focus on personal objects and stories (which can currently be shared by Twitter or Facebook).
This summer, the Swedish project lent its name to a two-day conference run by British LGBT arts and social justice organisation Homotopia and National Museums Liverpool. The Unstraight Museum event complemented the museum’s exhibition, ‘April Ashley: portrait of a lady’. See here for some of its presentations.