NAME: Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art
LOCATION: 26 Wooster Street, New York, NY 10013
ART: The first state-chartered museum devoted to LGBTQ artists and audiences
MAIN GENRE: LGBTQ art
BIO: The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art is the first and only museum of its kind in the world. It is named in honor of our co-founders, Charles Leslie and Fritz Lohman, who began showing and collecting art in their SoHo loft in 1969 to provide an outlet for gay artists within the community. During the 1980s, as AIDS claimed the lives of a host of artists and collectors, Charles and Fritz realized that many an important work of art was being destroyed by families who, because they didn’t know what to do with it or didn’t want to acknowledge the sexuality of their loved ones, discarded or destroyed it. In 1990, this need for a safe haven for art often excluded or looked down upon, led them to create the non-profit organization called the Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation. Since then, the organization has grown from a small “underground” gallery on Prince Street to its present spacious location at 26 Wooster Street. In 2011, the Foundation was granted a provisional charter for official museum status by the New York State Board of Regents.
LATEST WORKS: Current exhibition: The Piers: Art and Sex along the New York Waterfront
Please describe your organization’s artistic themes
The first state-chartered museum devoted to LGBTQ artists and audiences, the Museum is a unique non-profit 501(c)3 arts institution. The Museum is the successor to the Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation, which has been supporting gay and lesbian visual arts for more than twenty years, actively demonstrating that queer art exists not in a vacuum, but as an integral part of both contemporary art and art history.
Please describe your organization’s creative process
Our mission is to exhibit, preserve, and foster the creation of LGBTQ art and artists, past and present, which speak directly to the LGBTQ experience including erotic, political, romantic, and social imagery. We embrace this rich creative history by informing, inspiring, entertaining and challenging all who enter our doors.
What are your organization’s artistic goals?
We see ourselves as an alternative to a New York Museum culture reticent to freely address LGBTQ art, artists and themes.
Tell us about your organization’s programming
Our calendar of artistic events includes 6-8 major exhibitions a year, film screenings, plays, poetry readings, artist and curator talks, and panel discussions. We feature a wide range of historical and contemporary exhibitions international in scope. Other galleries include our Window Gallery, a street-facing gallery featuring work by contemporary, emerging and under-represented LGBTQ artists who address issues of gender, identity, sex and pop culture; the Founders’ Gallery featuring selections from the permanent collection; and the Annex which hosts our Drawing Studio and other smaller exhibitions. We also publish The ARCHIVE, a quarterly journal about LGBTQ art and artists.
What are your views on the industry?
We should not need a gay and lesbian museum; that is a sad commentary on the New York museum world. A recent study of sexual differences in Manhattan museums underscored the depth of the problem. Most museums in New York address queer themes between only 0-3% of their exhibitions.
What advice could you give to emerging artists?
There has been no shortage of LGBTQ artists at work and their work is being shown. Have no fear that you can be open – the world is, thankfully, changing.
How can one get involved with or join your organization?
Become a member of the Museum. Our membership program provides special admissions to events and numerous additional benefits at a variety of levels. The Museum offers a variety of opportunities for interested volunteers and interns.
The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art has a permanent collection of over 6,000 works. Also, the museum is a valuable resource. Our artist archive contains information on over 3,000 LGBTQ artists, both those represented in the collection and others of interest to LGBTQ audiences. Our library houses over 2,000 volumes, and is the most comprehensive collection of published books, catalogues, and pamphlets on LGBTQ art. Our database allows you to search over 1,000 images in the Museum’s permanent collection. Also included on our website is a valuable teaching tool called MILESTONES: (http://leslielohman.org/research/milestones.html), which is a timetable of the history of art from the gay perspective.