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Exploring Edinburgh’s LGBTQ+ Heritage: Unveiling Our Rainbow Past


Museums & Galleries Edinburgh has just concluded a collaborative initiative aimed at conveying the distinctive narratives of LGBTQ+ history in Edinburgh to both online and in-person visitors.

Curators have been working with Rowan Rush-Morgan, a PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh, to make digital object records more accessible for audiences and to share key objects in a digital exhibition.

The project, hosted by Museums & Galleries Edinburgh, and funded by the Scottish Graduate School of Arts & Humanities, focuses on the Remember When? Project, which collected objects from 2004 to 2006. The collection includes posters, magazines, t-shirts, badges, and larger items including the distinctive hand-painted sign of Lavender Menace, the first LGBT bookshop in Scotland. The collections are stored at the Museum Collections Centre in Broughton.

The exhibition – Our Rainbow Past: LGBTQ+ Objects from Edinburgh – launches today on the Our Town Stories platform.

“Museums & Galleries Edinburgh is proud to reflect our diverse communities in our venues, events, and exhibitions. Partnership projects like Rowan’s enable us to access expertise which helps us and our visitors to see our collections in a new light. The important contribution of the LGBTQ+ community to Edinburgh is showcased brilliantly in the new digital exhibition. We plan to keep collecting objects which tell the story of LGBTQ+ Edinburgh, and to keep sharing them with our visitors.

“We’re so excited to be able to share some of the most iconic objects from our LGBTQ+ collection online. New photography has really brought the objects to life, while Rowan’s research has added depth to the stories. Anyone with an interest in the LGBTQ+ life of Edinburgh and how far we’ve come in the journey towards equality and inclusion will love the exhibition.”

Culture and Communities Convener, Councillor Val Walker

“The Remember When? Project was groundbreaking at the time, bringing together objects, archives, and interviews to give a complete picture of LGBTQ+ life in Edinburgh. My placement was designed to make sure the collections database uses the correct terminology to allow researchers and the public to search for the stories from the collection important to them. We also wanted to highlight some of the star objects in an online exhibition, which was great fun to put together.”

Rowan Rush-Morgan, Project Lead and PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh

You can visit the Our Town Stories exhibition here.

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