How did this start?

The first Pop-Up was a one-night-only installation in a queer communal home in Bushwick, Brooklyn. It was part of Quorum Forum, ten days of queer events in New York City. On January 14, 2011, thirty-eight individuals created installations in mediums ranging from multi-channel video projections to gingerbread and candy. More than three hundred visitors passed through the doors during the seven hours in which the Pop-Up existed.

How do I bring the Pop-Up Museum to my community?

Email us! We’re happy to go anywhere around the country, or advise you on creating a Pop-Up of your very own.

Do we really need this? In 2011?

Last year Republican leaders threatened to defund The Smithsonian if it refused to remove a piece by queer artist David Wojnarowicz from the historic Hide / Seek exhibit. Said Senate Majority Leader Eric Cantor “When a museum receives taxpayer money, the taxpayers have a right to expect that the museum will uphold common standards of decency. The museum should pull the exhibit and be prepared for serious questions come budget time.”

While Representative Jack Kingston (R-Georgia) said “This is a museum that gets $5.8 million in taxpayer dollars and in the middle of a high deficit, 15 million unemployed Americans, they decide to have money to spend like this. This is a museum that, by the way, has next to it a display of the American presidents, on the other side, Elvis, and then you go through this — which is really perverted, sick stuff — ashes of an AIDS victim, in a self-portrait, eating himself. Male nudity, Ellen DeGeneres grabbing her own breast – lots of really kinky and really questionable kind of art.”

And as a recently released report by OutHistory.org documented, queer lives are already dramatically underrepresented in museum exhibitions, even without outside censorship. “[T]he Metropolitan Museum… discussed LGBT themes in only1.8% of its exhibitions over the period from 1995-2005. The Museum of Modern Art… came in at a mere 3.04%. Some museums, like the New York Historical Society have never, in any context and in any way, mentioned any LGBT theme in ten years.”- Weena Perry: NYC Museums’ Representation of LGBT Artists and Art, August 2007, released April 21, 2011.

Why “Queer?”

The Pop-Up Museum of Queer History has chosen to use the historically controversial term “queer” – once exclusively a pejorative, an insult to those outside the heteronormative, now a term reclaimed by our community – to describe ourselves and our focus for several reasons, including:

1) Inclusiveness

“Queer” is an umbrella term that attempts to encompass not only the more visible and familiar sexual minorities – such as lesbian, gay, bisexual – but all forms, all modes of sexual and gender expression. “Queer” is also a living term that is constantly evolving and expanding, a blanket term that welcomes all while respecting those who wish to remain outside a system of labels in their identities, their modes of being. There are as many kinds of “queer” as there are individuals who choose to identify with it. By calling ourselves, our focus, and our demographic “queer,” we hope to remain open and continue opening our attention to all forms of expression and identity.

3) Political Reclamation

“Queer” has long been thrown at those of non-normative sexualities as an insult in the service of repression and control. Our use of the term in the service of claiming our history continues its transformation into an empowering, expansive word. Through our use of “queer” to describe our history, we transform not only the term but our history itself, both words “queered” by their very reclamation.

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