[Lady Clementina Hawarden, untitled, 1860s]
Sexing the V&A collections
LGBTQ histories are a relatively new research subject for museums. Over the past few generations public attitudes to sexuality have undergone a seismic shift but museums have been slow to reflect these changes. The V&A's new LGBTQ programme aims to address this omission.
The V&A is seeking to unearth previously hidden LGBTQ histories in its collections, researching objects and the histories that surround them. Equally, these investigations look at the ways in which visitors themselves understand and make sense of these objects on the basis of their own identities and lived experience.
This is an exciting and complex task that is fraught with political, moral and personal challenges. Perhaps the most complex question stems from the inherent contradiction that lies at the centre of the gay liberation movement and its legacy - the desire to eradicate discrimination whilst enshrining difference. Any investigation into this area is charged and throws up many questions and provides only partial answers. We look forward to progressing these issues through future projects and events.