History and mission
The impetus for the founding of the Schwules Museum was a successful exhibition on gay topics at the Berlin Museum (Märkisches Museum) in summer 1984, Eldorado. This was the first public exposition in Germany of recent research on gay life. In 1985 the organisation Verein der Freunde eines Schwulen Museums in Berlin e.V. was founded and opened its own museum dedicated exclusively to LGBT topics at Mehringdamm 61 in the Kreuzberg district. The museum was located above a gay nightclub. In the summer of 2013, it moved to a former printing house in Lützowstr. 73, more than doubling its exhibition space, and is the world's first gay museum.
Since December 2004, the permanent exhibition has been Selbstbewusstsein und Beharrlichkeit. 200 Jahre schwule Geschichte ("Self-Awareness and Endurance: 200 Years of Gay History"). It depicts the strategies, options and problems of homosexuals in seeking to live a self-determined life, find others and organise networks in the period from 1790 to 1990. In association with this theme, the social and legal background is presented, such as the anti-gay Paragraph 175 of the German lawcode and the associated marginalisation, persecution and criminalisation of homosexuality as well as the successes of the gay rights movement.
As an adjunct to this, the museum mounts several temporary exhibitions every year. These include historical exhibitions illuminating particular periods or historical developments, such as Goodbye to Berlin. 100 Jahre Schwulenbewegung ("Goodbye to Berlin: 100 Years of the Gay Rights Movement" - 1997). The exhibition Verfolgung homosexueller Männer in Berlin 1933 – 45 ("Persecution of Homosexual Men in Berlin 1933–45"), in collaboration with the Sachsenhausen Memorial, dealt with the experience of gays in the Nazi era.
The museum also holds series of exhibitions on groups and organisations, such as Der Kreis ("The Circle") and Gesellschaft für Reform des Sexualrechts ("Society for the Reform of Sexual Law") and on individuals. A continuing series of homages to gays in public life has included Oscar Wilde, Marlene Dietrich, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Michel Foucault and Thomas Mann.
The museum archive houses periodicals going back to 1896 and a collection of photographs, videos, films, sound recordings, autographs, art works, and ephemera. The library currently contains approximately 10,000 books on homosexuality.
In December 2009 the museum received its first allocation of public money, a two-year grant from the cultural funds of the Berlin Senate, and declared that this would make possible a planned broadening of its focus to encompass other alternative sexual identities other than male homosexuality, above all lesbian and transgender.
- Michael Bollé, ed. Eldorado: Homosexuelle Frauen und Männer in Berlin, 1850–1950; Geschichte, Alltag und Kultur. Berlin: Frölich und Kaufmann, 1984. ISBN 3-88725-068-0. 2nd ed. Berlin: Verein der Freunde eines Schwulen Museums in Berlin e.V., 1992. ISBN 3-89468-032-6.
- Geoffrey Upton on the Gay Museum, Berlin Stories, 14 February 2010 (audio)
- Centrum Schwule Geschichte (Cologne)
- GLBT Historical Society (San Francisco)
- ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives (Los Angeles)
- Schwules Museum - Freunde eines Schwulen Museums e.V., Bewegung, Organisationen, taz.de.
- "Svhwules Museum", http://www.spiegel.de/kultur/gesellschaft/neueroeffnung-schwules-museum-berlin-a-911225.html
- Sara Richards, "Berlin's Schwules Museum, Exploring The Past And Present", NPR blogs, 17 February 2010, retrieved 3 April 2010.
- "Selbstbewusstsein und Beharrlichkeit — 200 Jahre schwule Geschichte: Die ständige Ausstellung des Schwulen Museums" at gay-web.de (German).
- "Senatsgeld für das Schwule Museum", Siegessäule 15 December 2009, retrieved 3 April 2010 (German).
- "Das Schwule Museum in Berlin erhält Senatsförderung", rainbow.at 11 December 2009, retrieved 3 April 2010 (German).
- "Berlin: Das Schwule Museum wird immer lesbischer" ("Berlin: The Gay Museum Is Becoming More and More Lesbian"), lesben.org 29 May 2009, retrieved 3 April 2010.
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