Museums are an integral part of the historical construction and classification of sexuality. Collections of artifacts and artworks addressing sexuality have played an important role in the production of sexual knowledge. From antiquities to contemporary art to everyday, mass-produced objects, the stories of sexuality have been told and collected through material culture. The public display of these collections of material culture connected to sexuality has always been contentious. There is a lack of educational concepts and methods for talking about sexuality in a museum setting, as well as still deeply-held restrictive notions of talking about sex.
At the same time, museums have often excluded sexualities and perspectives from women, people of color, queer people, disabled people, sex workers, indigenous people, and people from other marginalized communities. The racist and colonial legacies of museum collections, the exoticizing of non-western bodies and desires, and the objectification of women are well-known and studied. And yet, as more and more museums and exhibition spaces around the world recognize these extreme limitations, they are using artwork, objects, and other materials to talk about sexuality in new ways and critically engage with the diversity and intersections of sexuality, race, gender, class, and disability.
Museums are increasingly becoming spaces for community gathering, creating opportunities to engage audiences in programming that explores a variety of topics related to human sexuality. This is prompted in part by a growing number of museum and collections professionals who work with materials connected to human sexuality. But there is rarely a chance for a meaningful way for these professionals working on these topics to share and grow through their experiences and scholarship. This conference will remedy this issue.
The aims of the conference are:
- Highlight the diversity of approaches that museums and exhibition spaces around the world use to talk about sexuality in new ways through artworks, objects, and other materials.
- Explore the way museums are increasingly becoming spaces for diverse sexual communities, creating opportunities for empowerment and to engage audiences.
- Foster and contribute to critical scholarship and museum practice on sexuality and museums in relation to and in order to highlight de-colonial, BIPOC, feminist, LGBTQIA+, crip, and working class initiatives and interventions.
- Connect researchers, museum professionals, artists, sex educators, and others working on sexuality and museums for intensive exchange and critical reflection to build networks and resources.
"Exhibitionism. Sexuality at the museum" will be a hybrid conference featuring online sessions during the day and evening events in Miami.
We invite and encourage papers and presentations from a wide range of disciplines and institutions.
Deadline for submissions: August 15th, 2021
The conference is organized by Hannes Hacke (HU Berlin), Rebecca Fasman (Kinsey Institute), and Melissa Blundell-Osorio (WEAM).