The GLBT Historical Society mounts several temporary exhibitions at the museum every year. This page documents our past exhibitions. Click the title of an exhibition for more information about it.
In addition, we currently maintain two online exhibitions on Google’s Arts and Culture Portal. Click here to view the online exhibitions.
February 15 – May 27, 2019
This exhibition highlighted the extraordinary vitality of queer nightlife in San Francisco’s South of Market (SoMa) district during the darkest years of the AIDS crisis. It focused on the work of Melissa Hawkins, a young photographer for the San Francisco gay weekly The Sentinel and other publications from 1986 to 1994.
January 31 – May 5, 2019
This exhibition celebrated the 20th anniversary of Bay Area American Indian Two Spirits (BAAITS), an organization committed to activism and service for the Two-Spirit and ally communities of the San Francisco Bay Area.
October 2018 – February 2019
“A Picture is a Word: The Posters of Rex Ray” surveys graphic works dating from the 1990s to 2014 by San Francisco queer artist Rex Ray (1951–2015).
September 2018 – January 2019
In November 1978, Californians decisively voted down Proposition 6, a ballot initiative that would have given the state the power to fire both LGBTQ teachers and supporters for LGBTQ rights. This exhibition documented the campaign to defeat the measure.
March – September 2018
With one title on display for every letter of the alphabet, each drawn from the over 5,000 titles preserved in the archives of the GLBT Historical Society, this exhibition highlighted the history and diversity of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer periodicals produced in Northern California from the 1940s through the 2000s.
Part of this exhibition, entitled “Pioneering Periodicals,” can be viewed online here.
February – September 2018
This exhibition drew on rare posters and ephemera from a private collection to highlight the journey of black lesbian activist Angela Davis: from radical scholar, to political prisoner, to revolutionary icon, to public intellectual.
October 2017 – January 2018
This unique multimedia exhibition explored the story of OUT/LOOK, a groundbreaking national queer quarterly published in San Francisco from 1988 to 1992. It matched 38 culture-makers to one of the 17 back issues of the magazine to find inspiration for new works.
June – September 2017
“Picturing Kinship” offered a 35-year overview of portraits in painting and photography by San Francisco artist Lenore Chinn. The subjects of the artist’s portraits are individuals who have contributed to the diversity of San Francisco’s cultural landscape in such fields as poetry, visual and performing arts, film, rock music, academia and the LGBTQ movement.
This exhibition can be viewed online here.
April – September 2017
Mounted for the 50th anniversary of San Francisco’s Summer of Love, “Lavender-Tinted Glasses” revisted this history by highlighting the roles of four queers in the making of the Summer of Love: gay poet Allen Ginsberg, gay filmmaker Kenneth Anger, bisexual philosopher Gavin Arthur and bisexual rock star Janis Joplin.
January – May 2017
“Beartoonist of San Francisco” explored the contributions of cartoonist Fran Frisch to the development of the bear community, a subculture that developed in the 1980s to celebrate older, larger, hairier, ruggedly masculine gay men who were largely excluded from standards of attractiveness in gay popular culture.
October 2016 – February 2017
“Noche de Ambiente” opened a window into the meanings of ambiente—literally meaning “atmosphere” or “environment”—as reflected in Latino drag performance and LGBTQ and AIDS activism in San Francisco from the 1970s to the 1990s.
October 2016 – March 2017
This exhibition provided an introduction to the life, work and legacy of Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld (1868–1935), a defender of homosexual and transgender people in Germany and beyond.
July – October 2016
A traveling exhibition mounted at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York City and at the GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco, “Stroke” presented a historical retrospective of erotic illustrations by artists who worked for gay men’s magazines from the 1950s to the 1990s.
April – August 2016
“Dancers We Lost” was a special traveling exhibition that was part of a comprehensive dance history project honoring performers who died due to complications of HIV/AIDS.
March – July 2016
Featuring 29 beautiful posters drawn from the archival collections of the GLBT Historical Society, “Feminists to Feministas” illuminated the role of women of color in the evolving cultural messaging of queer prints and posters.
October 2015 – March 2016
This exhibition presented evocative photographs of San Francisco’s epic drag and costume balls of the mid-1970s.
May 2015 – March 2016
This exhibition showcased drawings, paintings, and three-dimensional artworks that are part of the GLBT Historical Society’s Art & Artifacts collection.
May 2014 – May 2015
This exhibition celebrated the pivotal moment when San Francisco’s queer community, spurred on by an infamous LIFE magazine story, began to define themselves on their own terms.
May 2014 – April 2015
Centered around four “flashpoints” in bisexual history, “BiConic Flashpoints” surveyed the story of the San Francisco Bay Area’s bisexual activism.