Beyond the Binary: Museum to explore untold stories of gender and sexuality thanks to new funding | University of Oxford
Pitt Rivers Museum
View of display cases in the Court of the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, with objects made from ivory in the foreground and beyond displays of musical instruments.

Photograph by Malcolm Osman, © Oxford University Images / Pitt Rivers Museum

Beyond the Binary: Museum to explore untold stories of gender and sexuality thanks to new funding

The Pitt Rivers Museum will launch a new project exploring the global diversity of sexual and gender identities, thanks to a new grant of £91,200 awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The eighteen-month project, Beyond the Binary: Queering and Questioning Collections and Displays at the Pitt Rivers Museum, aims to transform the Museum by staging new events and exhibitions, building on existing engagement with LGBTQ+ communities, and working with researchers, visitors and activists.

As part of the project the Museum will collect new objects from communities in Britain and internationally. These new acquisitions will highlight traditions of gender non-conformity, and bring British LGBTQ+ heritage into conversation with LGBTQ+ material culture worldwide. Through this work LGBTQ+ heritage will be made permanently visible in the Pitt Rivers Museum.

The Museum will also work to re-interpret the existing collections, challenging hetero-normative interpretations and identifying human histories that are unrepresented as a result of intolerance. The aim is to provide a richer, more diverse context to the objects on display, and to ensure that no individual or group feels excluded from the Museum because of their sexuality or gender. The project is intended to help all visitors – however they might identify themselves – understand humanity better.

Beyond the Binary will also include a series of public events, including cultural performances and a co-curated exhibition involving community training in conservation, display and interpretation.

Party at the Pitt 2018A performer at the 2018 'Party at the Pitt' event

Michelle Roffe, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund for South East England, commented “We are proud to support this important collaboration between the Pitt Rivers Museum and Oxford’s LGBT+ communities. Thanks to National Lottery players, the project will record and share historically underrepresented stories through new and existing collections, ensuring that the Museum engages with and represents more of the diverse histories of Oxford, the UK and the wider world.”