About The GLBT History Museum

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Located in San Francisco's Castro District, The GLBT History Museum is the first full-scale, stand-alone museum of its kind in the United States. The museum celebrates 100 years of the city's vast queer past through dynamic and surprising exhibitions and programming. To support the museum by becoming a member or donor, click here.


Main Gallery

Queer Past Becomes Present

The GLBT History Museum’s remodeled Main Gallery  is showing “Queer Past Becomes Present,” which includes these subjects:

Queer Youth: Out and Active
"Queer Youth" traces the activism of San Francisco Bay Area LGBTQQ youth 25 and under from the 1970s to the present.

The Assassination of Supervisor Harvey Milk
This section looks at one of the most horrific events in queer history, the assassination of activist and San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, and includes related artifacts, photographs and an excerpt from Milk's political will.

José Sarria: Activist and Entertainer
Costumes, artifacts, and ephemera document the life of José Sarria, "The Nightingale of Montgomery Street," from his days waiting tables and performing at the Black Cat Café through his historic run as the first openly gay candidate for public office in the United States.

Constructing Jiro Onuma: Putting the Pieces Together
"Constructing Jiro Onuma" details how history is a dynamic process involving continuous excavation and discovery through the personal collection of Japanese immigrant Jiro Onuma. His collection offers the only known visual documentation of same-sex intimacy in the Japanese American incarceration camps.

Fighting for Our Lives: Four Organizations Respond to AIDS
A look at four pioneering Bay Area organizations that fought for a greater response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic: People with AIDS-SF, the ARC/AIDS Vigil, the National Task Force for AIDS Prevention and WORLD (Women Organized in Response to Life-threatening Diseases).

Gayborhoods: Lost Queer Landscapes
Using unique artifacts and images, this exhibit recaptures the clubs, bars, restaurants, and other venues of three vibrant queer communities - North Beach, the Tenderloin, and the Valencia Street corridor - now all merely memories.

History is Now: The Dragon Fruit Project
"History is Now" showcases an intergenerational historical preservation project within the queer Asian Pacific Islander community.

The Lesbians of The Ladder: Courage Under Attack
In 1955 a small group -- many of them women of color - courageously founded the Daughters of Bilitis, a social club for lesbians. The organization's publication, the Ladder, quickly became a lifeline for women across the country struggling to come out in a virulently homophobic society.


The Front Gallery features periodically changing shows, often focused on historic queer photography.

30 Years of Collecting Art That Tells Our Stories

30 Years of Collecting Art. Ambush

This exhibition, by guest curator Elisabeth Cornu, includes selections of artworks produced during one of the most tumultuous periods in the local LBGT liberation movement: the 1960s to the 1990s. [NOTE: EXPLICIT CONTENT]


The Community Gallery space features small, focused shows, often marking the anniversary of an organization or event that has played a significant role in the history of the GLBT community in Northern California. The exhibits partner community curators with museum professionals to create new perspectives on Bay Area queer history.

30 Years of Collecting Art That Tells Our Stories

See description under "Front Gallery," above.

Online Exhibitions

The GLBT Historical Society and The GLBT History Museum have mounted or sponsored several exhibitions available for viewing on an ongoing basis on the Web:

Passionate Struggle: Dynamics of San Francisco's GLBT History. An overview of the exhibition at our pop-up museum in 2008–2009. Tracing elements of our communities’ affinities and differences, the show took visitors from the bedrooms and back rooms to the bookstores and bars, from Harvey Milk’s victories to transgender sex workers’ riots, from social movements to secret fantasies. View here.

Lineage: Matchmaking in the Archives. GLBT Historical Society artist-in-residence E. G. Crichton has been matching living artists to the archives of the dead, asking each artist to invent a response in any medium. To see all work created so far, visit the Queer Cultural Center online gallery.

Dykes on Bikes: 30 Years at the Forefront. Cocurator Glenne McElhinney leads a fast and informative video tour of exhibition shown at the GLBT Historical Society in 2008. Watch it now.

OutRanks: GLBT Military Service From World War II to the Iraq War. An overview of the 2007 exhibition created by guest curator Steve Estes — the first museum show in the U.S. to focus on the experience of GLBT servicemembers and the American military policy on homosexuality. View here.

Capturing the Moment: The Photojournalism of Rick Gerharter. View the inaugural exhibit on our Flickr site: “Capturing the Moment: The Photojournalism of Rick Gerharter,” an encore version of a gallery exhibition shown at the GLBT Historical Society in 2006. View here.

Council on Religion and the Homosexual. The LGBT Religious Archives Network and the GLBT Historical Society present this special exhibit, which portrays the early years of the Council on Religion and the Homosexual, a ground-breaking coalition of religious and homosexual activists in San Francisco in the mid-1960s. View here.

Donate to the GLBT Historical Society

4127 18th St.
San Francisco, CA 94114
(between Castro &
Collingwood streets)

Days & Hours
Monday – Saturday:
11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Sunday: Noon – 5 p.m.

General: $5
California Students (with ID): $3
Members: Free
First Wednesday of the Month: Free for all visitors (sponsored by the Bob Ross Foundation)

Programs & Events
The museum regularly sponsors programs and events such as history talks, panels, author readings and film showings. For the latest listings, visit the GLBT Historical Society home page

Group Tours
Docent-led group tours are available by appointment for groups of 10 or more. To book a tour, write to museum manager, Jeremy Prince at jeremy@glbthistory.org. Tours must be scheduled at least four weeks in advance and are subject to docent availability.

Phone & E-mail
(415) 621-1107

Museum Store

Looking for that perfect gift for the history buff in your life? Searching for the ideal mug to tastefully signal "Hey, I'm queer" at the office? Ready to buy a smart homo t-shirt for yourself — or even an LGBT-friendly apron for that backyard barbecue? The GLBT History Museum store offers all this and more. To start shopping, click here.

Getting Involved

The GLBT Historical Society maintains its museum in San Francisco's Castro District with generous help from foundations, business sponsors, individual donors and volunteers. You can join in supporting this long-held dream of the community by arranging a sponsorship, making a donation, signing on as a volunteer — or all three! For more details, click on the links below:

Sponsorship Opportunities
Donor Opportunities
Volunteer Opportunities

Sponsors & Supporters

Sponsors of The GLBT History Museum
City & County of San Francisco: Grants for the Arts

Presenting Sponsor
Bob Ross Foundation
Council on Library and Information Resources National Hostorical Publications and Records Commission
Real Bad (Grassroots Gay Rights West)
Real Bad

Platinum Sponsors
David R. Kessler, M.D.
Levi Strauss
Wells Fargo Foundation

Gold Sponsors
AAA Northern California, Utah & Nevada Insurance Exchange

Badlands & Toad Hall
Al Baum & Robert Holgate
John Bell & Jason Spicer
Harvey's Restaurant
Human Rights Campaign
Gerard Koskovich Queer Antiquarian Books
Chris Lewis & Todd Reasinger
Mark Rhoades
Emily Rosenberg & Darlene de Manincor
Earl Stokes & Ross Moore
Andreas Weigend

Silver Sponsors
Bank of the West
Troy Barber & Dan Stewart
Abraham Brown & Jim Stephens
Tom Burtch & Neil Austen
Community Thrift Store
Elisabeth Cornu
Robert Dockendorff
Chris Lewis & Todd Reasinger
Terence Kissack & Mark Coleman
Peter Lundberg & James Mowdy
John Raines
James Neale
See's Candies
Sterling Art Services

John Alecca
Nancy Andrews
Gary Booher
Gray Clossman Darryl Carbonaro
Paul Christensen
Community Safety Foundation
Diana Coopersmith
William Dickey
Mark Dimunation
Calvin Doucet
Andrew Ferguson
Gary Gansle
Kevin Gerber
Jerome Goldstein
Tim Gullicksen
Eric Hallquist
Tomlinson Holman
James Hormel & Michael Nguyen
Mario Hubert
Jack Lasner
Jason Macario & Steve Holst
Todd Martin
Michael Moniz
Trenton Norris
Ken Prog
Merle Rabine
Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence
Stephen Murray & Keelung Hong
William Patterson
Rainbow Grocery Cooperative
Kerry Romesburg & Judy Romesburg Gustavo Torres
Underglass Custom Framing
James Williams
Anders Winther & David Pike
Michael Yang & Jim Krenz

The Estates of Judy Freespirit, Archibald Wilson & Hank Wilson

Museum Media

Selected Coverage