The New-York Historical Society is expanding its headquarters to include a new museum that will chronicle the LGBTQ community and its history. Construction on the project is slated to begin in 2022.
The American LGBTQ+ Museum will take up 60,000 square feet of space New-York Historical Society’s building at 170 Central Park West. It will make history as the city’s first museum dedicated to LGBTQ life, culture, and history. The Leslie-Lohman Museum of the Art is also LGBTQ-focused but is primarily focused on art.
Under this $140 million project, the museum will boast a comprehensive collection of queer artifacts to spotlight underrepresented queer figures and educate youth about LGBTQ history.
The president and CEO of the New-York Historical Society, Dr. Louise Mirrer, said this museum will act as a living archive for the LGBTQ community.
“With great foresight, our trustees acted in 1937 to purchase the lot adjacent to New-York Historical’s building, knowing that our growing collections and evolving programs for scholars, students, educators, and the public would someday need room to expand,” Mirrer said in a written statement. “Now that day has arrived — and how gratifying it is to realize the dream of telling the American story in all its complexity in state-of-the-art educational spaces and a brand-new gallery dedicated to the struggle for civil rights of the American LGBTQ+ community.”
In 2017, the American Museum of LGBT History and Culture Task Force began discussing plans for the museum, and a year later, the New York City Council threw its weight behind the project. The following year, the museum snagged a partnership with the New-York Historical Society. To help kick off the project, organizers surveyed more than 3,200 LGBTQ people across the nation. The findings revealed that individuals sought a space that was intersectional, responsive to the community’s needs, and accessible.
The New York-based firm Robert A.M. Stern Architects is set to design the facility, which will include study areas, access to a rooftop garden, and a “compact storage facility” for the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library. The first phase of construction — to begin next summer — will focus on “below-grade library stacks,” while the second phase will build galleries and classrooms, organizers said.
Richard Burns, a museum board chair, praised the project for bringing visibility to LGBTQ issues.
“We’re delighted to partner with New York’s foremost museum of history to build a new museum dedicated to an exploration and celebration of the richness and diversity of LGBTQ+ history and culture in America,” Burns said in a written statement. “The respect and rigor with which New-York Historical has approached this process, including their consultation with local communities, mirrors our own commitment to building a thoughtful, welcoming, queer, and inclusive experience for our visitors and partners. We look forward to bringing a dynamic new museum to life within this cherished, deeply-respected, and growing New York City landmark.”
The construction of the American LGBTQ+ Museum in New York comes after the Leslie-Lohman Museum of the Art, an LGBTQ gallery that has focused on exploring and preserving queer artwork since 2016.
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