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Sydney Mardi Gras Museum Opens

There are currently two permanent gay and lesbian museums in the world. One, the Schwules Museum, is in Berlin. The other is the GLBT Historical Society Museum in San Francisco. This year, Sydney will take its rightful place and open the third.

This week the inaugural exhibition of the Sydney Mardi Gras Museum opened to the public. While it is currently in a temporary space on the corner of Oxford and Palmer Streets in Sydney’s Darlinghurst, it will be housed in a permanent home, which is still to be decided upon.

Australia’s first gay and lesbian museum draws on Mardi Gras’ rich, and sometimes violent, history. From the police brutality and horrors that the “78ers”went through in the first march down Oxford Street 35 years ago to the wonderful celebration that now brings tourists from around the world – there’s a lot of ground to cover, and it’s ground that should be remembered.

The exhibition has been curated by Nick Henderson and brings together costumes, images, memorabilia and footage from public and private collections.

There’s everything from the letters that helped organise the very first march back in 1978 and brought a bit of a tear to my eye, to a pair of shorts formerly owned by Mardi Gras and Sleaze party legend, Troughman (presumably washed and pressed before they were put up on the wall).

Mardi Gras Co-chair Peter Urmson explains that the exhibition “grew out of a conversation about providing a home for all the wonderful artifacts, historical notes, costumes, photographs and artwork which document our rich history.”

Personally, I think it’s a wonderful idea.

While some debate whether Mardi Gras is relevant in today’s society, I’ve spoken to so many people over the years who saw it as a beacon for hope, and a sign that they weren’t alone when they felt marginalised that I am all for it continuing.

And the thought of a museum that will capture some of that history and magic fills my heart with joy. (Joy – coincidentally the name of the first song I marched in the Mardi Gras parade to back in 1998…. but that’s a story for another day).

The (temporary) Mardi Gras Museum is found on the corner of Oxford and Palmer Streets, Darlinghurst.

It is open from 11am to 7pm every day until Saturday the 2nd March 2013, when doors will close at 3pm.

Admission is free, but donations are welcomed.

To find out more about the 2013 Mardi Gras, and the wonderful events that are being held for the 35th anniversary, visit Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras’ website.

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  1. Anonymous says

    Just a minor clarification, the exhibition only has one curator, Nick Henderson. SGLMG Board member David Wilson, is the Chair of the Museum Project Committee and the Board sponsor of the exhibition, but he didn’t co-curate the exhibition.

    A little over half of the exhibition has been sourced from the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives (www.alga.org.au), which is celebrating its 35th year this year along with Mardi Gras.

    • Thanks for the heads up, Anon! I’ve gone back in to correct that bit… I must have had the wrong end of the stick, and appreciate your taking the time to let me know.

      Happy (almost) Mardi Gras!

  2. Great article about a fantastic exhibition. I’m excited to know where the permanent home will be.

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