In Haunt

August Bank Holiday weekend in the city has long been associated with Manchester Pride Festival – celebrating LGBTQ+ life and community across the area, and further afield. Although the usual physical festival has been postponed in terms of covid-19 measures (details here, including of the Alternative Manchester Pride Festival 2020), many organisations and institutions across the city are celebrating the spirit of Pride through digital content and exciting online events – including Manchester Museum, as part of their LGBTQ+ Programme for Manchester Pride.

A family friendly digital drag show is sure to enchant online audiences on Thursday 27 March, titled ‘Queer Tales: Myths and Monsters’, it has been co-curated with one of Manchester’s most celebrated drag queens Cheddar Gorgeous, and features  a diverse cast of drag icons.  Premiering on Manchester Museum’s YouTube Channel at 6pm, join Cheddar, along with the fabulous Lill, Beyoncé Holes/Adam Lowe and The Vicar’s Daughter/The Altar Boy, for a special show packed with highlights.

Queer Tales

Quirky costumes, powerful performances, spectacular storytelling, poetry and much more is set to feature, upholding love and acceptance in an exciting showcase of some of the region’s finest drag talent. The show will see mythologies – both ancient and modern – explored with a queer eye, inviting the viewer to consider oft-marginalised perspectives more closely, especially within a museum context. How so? Each drag artist has used an object from the Museum collection as a starting point for their artistic response. Drag is an engaging art form with the capacity to challenge patriarchal narratives in a powerful way, and to highlight how considering LGBTQ+ perspectives and stories can lead to new narratives for historic artefacts.

‘Queer Tales: Myths and Monsters’ is also linked to an upcoming panel discussion – ‘Queer Tales: A Conversation’ - on Thursday 3 September (6pm on the Manchester Museum YouTube channel). This will discuss the show, the themes raised in performance and further LGBTQ+ inclusion in museums, with the overarching theme of ‘belonging’.

Both the show and the panel discussion are part of Manchester Museum’s wider LGBTQ+ Programme, and the ‘Queering Manchester Museum’ project. This aims to bring new voices into the collection, and to encourage interpretation of museum objects from a range of perspectives. After all, objects that may have been attributed with a certain value in previous years,  have gained further layers of interpretation over time, often challenging the prejudices that may have been held in the past.

‘Queering Manchester Museum’ casts a questioning eye upon set value judgements of its collection and instead encourages opening up meaning for many different audiences. This can be experienced in the ‘LGBTQ+ Digital Trail’ for example, accessible via the dedicated Queering Manchester Museum website here (and also accessible via the museum’s recent mobile site Manchester Museum in Quarantine: www.mminquarantine.com) focusing on a range of items in the Manchester Museum collection and exploring alternative perspectives upon them. Well-known objects as well as some hidden gems are all part, including the likes of ‘Queen Victoria’s Soap’, a Mummy Portrait, a taxidermy snake and even ‘Stan’, the much-loved cast of a Tyrannosaurus Rex!

Esme Ward, Director of Manchester Museum reflected:

“Museums should be safe and welcoming spaces where diversity of identity is celebrated. This programme aims to reveal untold stories and amplify the voices of the LGBTQ+ community; this reflects the museum’s ambition to become the most inclusive, imaginative and caring museum you might imagine.”

And that is not all! The ‘Queering Manchester Museum’ site has a number of downloadable craft activities’ and puzzles, as well as a vibrant events page, set to feature further thought-provoking LGBTQ+ content as the year continues. This builds on previous inclusive museum content such as ‘An Afternoon with the Family Gorgeous’, recognised for its positive social impact and shortlisted for Best Event at the 2019 Manchester Culture Awards.

 Stay updated on the dedicated Manchester Museum website for details. For further information on Manchester Pride 2020, including the Alternative Manchester Pride Festival in light of the postponement of the usual physical event, there is information online here.

Imagery provided by Manchester Museum 

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