Installation view, Raúl de Nieves The Treasure House of Memory, the Institute of Contemporary ArtBoston, September 1, 2021-July 24, 2022. Photo by Mel Taing

12 LGBTQ+ museum exhibitions to see this summer

From the UK’s first national LGBTQ+ museum to shows that challenge societal binaries, the art world is finding new ways to honour queer talent and strength

The British Museum has organised two thematic tours to examine objects that have a special connection to LGBTQ+ history: a 15-object trail that can be completed in 60-75 minutes, as well as a 30-minute trail that spotlights three objects. Audio commentary enriches items ranging from a plaque of the Mesopotamian deity Ishtar who had the power to assign gender, to a pair of 18th-century chocolate-cups owned by the Irish couple Lady Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby.

Burney relief  Queen of the Night, c. 19th century B.C. to 18th century B.C. © The Trustees of the British Museum
Burney relief / Queen of the Night, c. 19th century B.C. to 18th century B.C. © The Trustees of the British Museum

Open through 28 August 2022, the museum’s exhibition Drawing attention: emerging British artists has a strong LGBTQ+ presence, including the Turner Prize-shortlisted artist, Sin Wai Kin. Over 20 new acquisitions will be shown for the first time alongside some of the most celebrated works by the likes of Andy Warhol and Michelangelo from the museum’s collection.

Supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Beyond the Binary puts LGBTIAQ+ stories told by LGBTIAQ+ people at the heart of the Museum — from its public galleries to its digital databases. Co-produced with over 40 community partners, the exhibition was created by making the museum’s collections available to help uncover and narrate deeply personal stories, challenging the hegemonic silencing of queer voices.

Installation view, Beyond the Binary Gender, Sexuality, Power. © Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford
Installation view, Beyond the Binary: Gender, Sexuality, Power. © Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford

Shaped around four sections: Indigenous Power, Countering Colonialism; Rituals and Identity; Representation and Activism; and Objects of Power, the exhibition looks at LGBTIAQ+ representation and ideas of gender, using material from across the globe and a wide range of historical periods. Objects and images selected from the collections are displayed alongside loaned and newly collected contemporary artworks and protest ephemera.

This solo exhibition of New York-based interdisciplinary artist, performer, and musician Raúl de Nieves marks his first presentation in Boston. The artist’s multifaceted practice ranges from stained-glass-style narrative paintings to heavily adorned figurative sculptures that reference traditional costumes in Mexican culture and modes of dress from drag, ballroom, and queer club cultures.

Raúl de Nieves, The Fable, which is composed of wonders, moves the more, 2021. Fiberglass, plastic, cultured pearls, metal, glass, glue, and resin. 95 x 29 x 65 in (241.3 x 74 x 165.1 cm). © Raúl de Nieves
Raúl de Nieves, The Fable, which is composed of wonders, moves the more, 2021. Fiberglass, plastic, cultured pearls, metal, glass, glue, and resin. 95 x 29 x 65 in (241.3 x 74 x 165.1 cm). © Raúl de Nieves

All de Nieves’s works share a distinctive visual language that draws from Mexican craft traditions, religious iconography, mythology, and folktales to explore the possibilities of adornment and the mutability of identity. For the ICA, de Nieves has created The Treasure House of Memory, a body of interconnected works that are rooted in memory and explore themes of personal transformation.

Christie’s is proud to sponsor a fellowship for LGBTQ+ artists at New York’s Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, whose mission is to exhibit and preserve LGBTQ+ art and foster the artists who create it. Lorenza Böttner: Requiem for the Norm  is the first US presentation of the work of Chilean/German artist Lorenza Böttner. Born in Chile, Böttner lost both arms in an accident at the age of eight. Institutionalised in Germany, she moved with her mother for treatment and rejected prosthetics intended to compensate for her disability.

Installation view, Lorenza Böttner Requiem for the Norm. Photograph by Kristine Eudey. © 2022 Courtesy of the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art

Installation view, Lorenza Böttner: Requiem for the Norm. Photograph by Kristine Eudey. © 2022 Courtesy of the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art

In art school, she started presenting as female and assumed the name Lorenza. Although her career spanned just 16 years, Böttner created hundreds of individual works, painting with her feet and mouth and using dance, photography, street performance, drawing, and installation to celebrate the complexity of embodiment and gender expression.

QUEER: Stories from the NGV Collection includes approximately 400 artworks from antiquity to the present day, making the exhibition the most historically expansive thematic presentation of its kind ever presented by an Australian art institution. Media ranges from painting and photography to fashion and the decorative arts.

Thierry Mugler, Dress 1990, spring–summer. Acetate, viscose, metal. Centre back 88.9 cm. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. © Thierry Mugler
Thierry Mugler, Dress 1990, spring–summer. Acetate, viscose, metal. Centre back: 88.9 cm. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. © Thierry Mugler

Rather than attempting to provide a definitive history of queer art, the exhibition explores the NGV Collection from a queer perspective, presenting and interpreting queer concepts and stories. Many works in the exhibition are by artists who identify as queer, while others have a connection to queer histories. Beyond exploring new layers of interpretation and reinvestigating conventional narratives, this exhibition also considers absences in the NGV Collection itself, by excavating queer history where it has been omitted or eclipsed, through oversight or intent.

The Art Gallery of Ontario is one of numerous institutions spotlighting pieces by the 2SLGBTQIA+ community within its permanent collection. In this tightly curated show, 13 works by the likes of General Idea, Will Munro, Frances Norma Loring, Cassils, and David Buchan encourage visitors to consider how queerness is understood and visualised within the landscape of Canadian art — and how for many, the term ‘queer’ has transformed from a slur to a badge of honour.

Zachari Logan, Wild Man 13, Flora, 2016. Blue pencil on frosted polyester film. Courtesy the Art Gallery of Ontario

Zachari Logan, Wild Man 13, Flora, 2016. Blue pencil on frosted polyester film. Courtesy the Art Gallery of Ontario

While some of the artists saw their private lives criminalised, others suffered the effects of prejudice and discrimination on their own health, or that of their partners. Spanning 150 years of artistic production and various media, the works are united in their artists’ desire to challenge and redefine the societal rules of their time.

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  • Queer Creativity Through the Ages: Artwork from The Center on Colfax Open Art Studio Denver Art Museum
    24 June 2022 until fall 2022

In collaboration with The Center on Colfax, the Denver Art Museum is hosting a new exhibition of community artwork in its Martin Building’s Creative Hub. Opened in 1976, The Center on Colfax has become the largest LGBTQ community center in the Rocky Mountain region, and it has played a pivotal role in statewide initiatives to reduce harassment and discrimination.

The Center’s West of Fifty Open Art Studio Group. Back row (left to right) Richard A. White, Phillip Hoyle, Keithland D. Wilhite, Tom Schasane, Steve Calcagno, Avis Blankenship. Front row (left to right) Kenneth W. Felts, Michael King. Not pictured Kathleen Kelleher, John Cray, David Burrows. Photo by Roddy MacInnes. Artwork Michael King (HeHim), Courageous Loyalty. Image courtesy of the
The Center’s West of Fifty Open Art Studio Group. Back row (left to right): Richard A. White, Phillip Hoyle, Keithland D. Wilhite, Tom Schasane, Steve Calcagno, Avis Blankenship. Front row (left to right): Kenneth W. Felts, Michael King. Not pictured: Kathleen Kelleher, John Cray, David Burrows. Photo by Roddy MacInnes. Artwork: Michael King (He/Him), Courageous Loyalty. Image courtesy of the Dorow Family

The Center offers several programmes and events focusing on youth, transgender and nonbinary individuals, and aging community members. In 2010, The Center introduced the first Open Art Studio, which offers a safe space for individuals to come together, connect, and create. Queer Creativity Through the Ages is a product of their participants’ hardships, triumphs, and experiences.

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  • Michaela Yearwood Dan: Let Me Hold You Queercircle
    Through 8 September 2022

This month, Queercircle, an LGBTQ+ charity working at the intersection of arts, culture and social action, opened a new permanent home for LGBTQ+ artists. Recognising the disappearance of artist studios and the closure of over 50% of dedicated LGBTQ+ spaces in London in the past decade, Queercircle will support the LGBTQ+ community through an annual programme of physical and digital exhibition commissions, participatory artist residencies and a public programme.

Installation view, Michaela Yearwood Dan Let Me Hold You. © Deniz Guzel
Installation view, Michaela Yearwood Dan: Let Me Hold You. © Deniz Guzel

The exhibition programme launched with a solo show titled, Let Me Hold You, presenting new site-specific work by London-based painter, Michaela Yearwood-Dan. Yearwood-Dan’s signature botanical-inspired motifs allow for a visual exploration that expands our understanding of what it means to be queer and to love. In Queercircle’s reading room, the inaugural archive exhibition, The Queens’ Jubilee, celebrates the radical drag queens of the Gay Liberation Front coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the first Pride march in the UK.

The Frick Collection’s temporary residence at Frick Madison has prompted new and stimulating ways of looking at the museum’s collection of Old Master paintings. Living Histories: Queer Views and Old Masters is a year-long project featuring the work of four New York–based artists: Doron Langberg, Salman Toor, Jenna Gribbon, and Toyin Ojih Odutola. Each presents a single new work in conversation with iconic paintings in the Frick’s collection, with particular emphasis on issues of gender and queer identity typically excluded from narratives of early modern European art.

Installation view, thoughout Living Histories Queer Views and Old Masters, featuring Toyin Ojih Odutola’s The Listener (2021) displayed alongside Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn’s Self-Portrait (1658). Photo Joseph Coscia Jr
Installation view, thoughout Living Histories: Queer Views and Old Masters, featuring Toyin Ojih Odutola’s The Listener (2021) displayed alongside Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn’s Self-Portrait (1658). Photo: Joseph Coscia Jr

The final pairing of this exhibition is Toyin Ojih Odutola’s The Listener, part of a series of drawings that chronicle a prehistoric civilisation envisioned by the artist, and Rembrandt’s Self-Portrait. The Listener prompts reflection on myth and history, selfhood and identity, and the power and privilege to create one’s own story.

This ground-breaking exhibition documents both the personal and shared experiences of the LGBTQ+ community through art influenced and inspired by the exhibiting artists’ formative years spent in the American South. In response to its Call for Artworks, the GMoA received nearly 300 submissions from over 100 artists living across the United States — it ultimately selected 63 powerful and poignant artworks.

Installation view, Growing Up Queer in the South. Courtesy the Greenville Museum of Art
Installation view, Growing Up Queer in the South. Courtesy the Greenville Museum of Art

Found in the exhibition catalogue, the artist statements provide critical insights into the challenges of navigating one’s identity as both queer and southern. A wide variety of media, including installations, sculptures, textiles, paintings, photographs, and prints are represented.

The queer and trans communities have long been a part of British Columbia’s maritime history. This exhibit shares the stories of some of those community members in their own words. Their deeply personal reflections allow a glimpse at the many ways that orientation and identity have played into their experiences of life at sea.

Installation view, throughout Queer at Sea. Courtesy the Maritime Museum of British Columbia
Installation view, throughout Queer at Sea. Courtesy the Maritime Museum of British Columbia

Each person has a unique story with moments of triumph and discrimination. What they all share is a passion for life around or on the waters of the coast — from marine recreation to decades-long maritime careers and everything in between.

In May 2022, Queer Britain, the UK’s first national LGBTQ+ museum, opened its first physical space in Granary Square, King's Cross, London, occupying part of a historic building owned by the charity Art Fund. Operating as a truly inclusive space, they welcome visitors to see what they have been working towards over the past four years.


The space is wheelchair accessible and admission is free for all. Queer Britain will have merchandise and books curated by Gay’s The Word, an independent LGBT bookstore, available for purchase in their shop for those who wish to support the museum and their charities. 

Installation view, throughout Welcome to Queer Britain. Image Courtesy of Queer Britain
Installation view, throughout Welcome to Queer Britain. Image Courtesy of Queer Britain

After an inaugural exhibition of photography spanning more than a century closes on 4 July, a new show will open on 20 July — stay tuned as the name and subject have yet to be revealed.