LGBTQ+ history museum taking shape in New York City

Crystal Cranmore Image
Tuesday, October 25, 2022
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Leaders say it is the first in the city dedicated to global, national and local LGBTQ history and culture. Crystal Cranmore has the story.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- New York City's oldest museum is ushering in a new era.

"We had done several exhibitions that really touched on the history of the American LGBTQ+ community," said NY Historical Society President and CEO Louise Mirrer. "But we had never really had the opportunity to delve deeply into that history."

That is until now.

The Historical Society is expanding and will incorporate the brand new American LGBTQ+ Museum.

Leaders say it will be the first in the city dedicated to global, national and local LGBTQIA+ history and culture.

"One of the things about LGBTQ history that has made it secondary in the broader scope of history interpretation is that so many people at the end of their lives had the records of their queerness destroyed my family members, my loved ones sometimes by themselves, because of the stigma and the shame," said the museum's executive director, Ben Garcia.

"And so our goal really is to bring those stories out into the light out of the closet of history, and to inspire future generations to not feel that stigma or that shame that those earlier generations did," he continued.

Stories like that of Edie Windsor, an activist whose landmark case led the Supreme Court to grant same-sex married couples federal recognition for the first time - along with access to many federal benefits.

Right now, the American LGBTQ+ Museum lives online, hosting pop-up exhibits every so often.

For the first time, it will have its own home on what had been a vacant lot at 77th Street and Central Park West on Manhattan's Upper West Side.

The lot was purchased by the Historical Society back in 1937.

"We were always looking for the right idea," said Garcia. "Museums represent what a culture values, and so to have a physical sign of a physical museum says something very clear about what this culture what this community values."

The new museum is expected to open in 2026.

This story is part of a special two-part series, Our America: Pride In History, which tells the stories of LGBTQ+ people through the course of American history.

WATCH Part One here | WATCH Part Two here

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