Lord Mayor responds to criticism for voting down pride museum
The Lord Mayor Clover Moore has come under fire after she and fellow council members voted down a motion by Liberal Councillor Christine Forster for the City of Sydney Council to look into the business case to set up and run an LGBTI Pride Museum in the Oxford Street precinct.
Forster told SX the Lord Mayor claimed a museum is not a goal for the community, "despite the fact that the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras lobbied for and ran a highly acclaimed and widely supported pop-up museum in a council-owned property on Oxford Street for two months in 2013".
Moore however told SX her reticence lay not in providing a space and funds for a museum but that a museum run and staffed by Council could inadvertently fall into the hands of conservatives. She also questioned the motivations of some Councillors in supporting the project, saying: “This debate is being driven by major parties desperately trying to distract people from the fact that they have worked against granting the LGBTI community the basic human right of full equality.”
Moore stressed an LGBTI Pride Museum should be run by community members not politicians.
“Why would we risk putting the telling of LGBTI stories under the control of nervous bureaucrats or subject to pressure from a future Council? Imagine a conservative Council trying to pressure the curator into toning down or removing an exhibition they thought offensive,” Moore commented.
The Lord Mayor said there were already significant items of historical LGBTI memorabilia on display at numerous venues around Sydney, including the Powerhouse Museum and the NSW State Library (which houses many of the records Moore collected as part of her work with the community).
Whilst Moore appreciated the need for financial support for a Pride Museum, she suggested a community-operated museum supported by fundraising sponsorship and philanthropy, may be the way forward.
She cited several examples of community run initiatives to SX: “The Schwules Museum, Berlin is managed and operated by the community-based Friends of a Gay Museum in Berlin. It’s supported through membership fees and donations.
“The GLBT History Museum, San Francisco opened in 2011 as a project of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society. The Society is assisted in running the museum by many passionate volunteers.
“The National LGBTI Museum Project in the USA was initiated by furniture entrepreneur Mitchell Gold and his husband Tim Gold, a former Smithsonian researcher. The estimated cost of the project is between $50 million and $100 million and has a target opening date of 2018.”
Still Moore did concede a Pride museum was an important acknowledgement for the LGBTI community.
“A museum is important and if a viable proposal was developed by the community, I’d support it and lobby hard to help attract funding from the community and State and Federal Governments,” Moore said.