Museum Queeries is an interdisciplinary research cluster project with collaborators from across Turtle Island. As institutional spaces, museums are often closely linked to national identities and histories and also, tacitly, to heteronormative and cisnormative representations of the polity and public culture. Museum Queeries prioritizes Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, and queer, (2S+LGBTTQ) contributions and interventions into museums and museum studies both as a means of addressing structural exclusions and opening new modes of productive inquiry and activism. The project is attentive to what museum scholar James Sanders calls “the small cracks and fissures in the heteronormative foundation of the museum — spaces through which the roots of new curatorial and educational performances may take hold.”

The idea of “queerying” the museum in this case is not only about addressing the museum’s representation of gender and sexuality; it is also about challenging normative formations including white privilege, racism and settler colonialism, among other systems of oppression, as they operate alongside and with transphobia and homophobia. In other words, we use an intersectional approach to think through ways in which gender, sexuality, race, class, ability, religion, ethnicity, and national identities are inter-implicated in the museum and in museumgoers’ points of contact with the museum. We are particularly interested in how queering, decolonizing and anti-racist strategies might work together to bring about change to museum cultures.

The Museum Queeries research cluster is one of five clusters that is part of the Thinking through the Museum Research Network and Partnership Grant (2021-2028). It emerged in 2016 from a partnership between the UW Cultural Studies Research Group and the Thinking through the Museum Partnership Development Project (2015-2018). It involves scholars, museum professionals, educators, students, and community stakeholders. The cluster’s goals include developing interventions into current museum practices, new proposals for museum exhibits, and partnerships with artists, activists, museum professionals, and other scholars.

Click here to learn more about this project in a feature published by the University of Winnipeg.