LGBT and Brighton Museum & Art Gallery

I’m Rob and I usually work in the Booking Office in the Royal Pavilion. At university I studied Fine Art and particularly enjoyed organising and setting up our exhibitions. I found it really interesting to see more of the behind the scenes work that goes on, as at the time I was mostly working on my own art practice. When this opportunity to work with Laura Waters on new interpretation and a trail for Brighton Museum & Art Gallery came up as part of the workforce development programme, I thought this would be a great time to broaden my knowledge of art from a more curatorial or research-based angle.

Between Laura, myself and Kelly (who also began working on the project through workforce development) we decided to theme the trail on the LGBT history of our collections then went on to select some artists or historical areas to research. Over the next couple of months we researched, photographed objects, filmed videos and typed up our text for the trail leaflet. I was not too happy that I woke up on the morning of the filming to discover I had a bad cold – so keep that in mind if you watch the videos on YouTube please!

A video screenshot of Kelly and I discussing Alexander McQueen
A video screenshot of Kelly and I discussing Alexander McQueen

As a gay man myself I found researching the lives of others, especially those further back in history, really intriguing. It was fascinating to see how LGBT people lived in lots of different time periods and as part of very different societies to ours today. Originating from Nottingham, finding more out about the history of Brighton Pride and also Brighton’s gay past in general was great too.

Alexander McQueen was probably my favourite person to research though. I loved seeing all the images of his very elaborate and dramatic clothing designs as well as reading about his rather crazy catwalk shows. This part of his creative work was something I’d not known anything about until this project, and the descriptions of the theatricality, intensity and darkness to his shows make me wish I could have seen some of them in person. Glass cubes filled with moths, models in gas masks, huge shipwrecks – sounds pretty amazing to me!

As I write this our trail leaflet is being designed and printed and the videos are being prepared to go online. The trail opens at the start of May and I hope that it offers a new, alternative history of some of our collections to the visitors to the museum as well as other staff members. Kelly and I will also be working with Ellie Newland on organising the Out Late event in July, linked to both this trail and Brighton Pride. It should be a whole lot of fun and hopefully I will see you there!

Robert White

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