Queer History on the Move

The Pop-Up Museum of Queer History spends a month in Philly

Courtesy of Pop-Up Museum of Queer History

The Pop-Up Museum of Queer History is coming to Philadelphia. Starting April 21, the museum will spend one month at the William Way LGBT Community Center. Since its inception more than a year ago, thousands of people have seen its work across the country and online. But like each moving show, this one offers a regional perspective – and it has Philly written all over it.

“Pop-Up Philadelphia presents nearly 20 exhibits that approach the question of queer history from vastly different points of entry geographically, temporally and formally,” says Hugh Ryan, founding director of the Pop-Up Museum of Queer History. “We have work that deals with current legal issues in Uganda, the criminalization of trans-bodies in mid-17th century America, personal recollections of the first March on Washington for queer rights, and the lives of black lesbian elders.”

The exhibit will showcase film, textile arts, sculpture, documents and photos, including a glimpse into Philly’s own LGBT past, like the use of drag in Philadelphia Mummers’ Parades dating back to the 1880s. Because the exhibits are created by a wide variety of individuals, not by a staff of paid professionals, it makes each show unique.

“Half of the exhibits were created by Philadelphia-based artists and scholars,” says Ryan, who first created the Pop-Up Museum in response to  the conservative attack on the Hide/Seek exhibit in Washington D.C. “We have a film about Kiyoshi Kuromiya – a Philadelphia based AIDS-activist who was very involved in ACT-UP – an exhibit on the Girlfriends Motorcycle Club, a Philadelphia HIV/AIDS social and support group from the 1980s, and a multimedia piece investigating the personal history of a gay male couple in Philly in the 1930s.”

Some of the other pieces have a Philadelphia focus, including an installation of ephemera and photos from the first March on Washington for queer rights assembled by a Philadelphia resident from his own personal belongings. “Another project – a documentary film on black lesbian elders – is presenting some rough footage of their work, with a particular focus on interviews with Philadelphians,” says Ryan. “We feel it is incredibly important to interweave the local, national and international elements of queer history, to show that we are truly everywhere.”

Pop-Up Queer History opening reception, April 21, 7 p.m.; “Queering the Curriculum,” April 28; and “Obscene Resistance,” May 9, William Way LGBT Community Center, 1315 Spruce Street, 215-732-2220.