Research collaboration generates national debate

Prejudice and Pride is a collaborative research project between the Research Centre for Museums and Galleries and the National Trust that explores and reveals LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) connections across the Trust’s properties and experiments with new ways of engaging audiences around these largely untold and hidden histories. Working closely with a cohort of properties and key staff, the project team is seeking to generate new insights for the burgeoning international field of queer public heritage through the following research question:

How can we offer diverse audiences (new and existing) authentic, engaging and meaningful experiences and purposefully engage the public in debates surrounding LGBTQ history, culture and equality by researching, acknowledging and presenting the LGBTQ histories and associations in the places, stories and collections of the National Trust?

As well as supporting properties across England and Wales to research and present their LGBTQ stories, the RCMG team has worked especially closely with a smaller number of sites to experiment with new ways engaging audiences around histories of same sex love and desire and gender diversity. These include Felbrigg Hall in north Norfolk where researchers created a short film, narrated by Stephen Fry, that tells visitors the story of the last squire and an immersive installation at Kingston Lacy that supports visitors to make connections between the history of the house and contemporary LGBTQ lives. The collaboration has stimulated considerable debate in the national media and amongst many tens of thousands of visitors who have experienced Prejudice and Pride at a Trust property or at one of the many Pride events held across the UK in 2017.  In depth research into audience engagement and response is currently being carried out to explore the impact of the project on visitors’ thinking and attitudes around contemporary LGBTQ equality. Richard Sandell, who is leading the project, is currently working with performer David McAlmont to create a unique research-led performance, which will premiere in May 2018 at an international conference run in collaboration with the National Trust.