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85 years of LGBT history and culture explored in new MCNY exhibit

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Features 225 works of art spread out over two full galleries at the museum

An expansive new exhibit spanning close to 100 years of LGBT history and culture in New York City is now on display at the Museum of the City of New York (MCNY). Gay Gotham: Art and Underground Culture in New York, as is the exhibit is titled is examining the city’s role as a bastion for LGBT culture.

The show, which will run until February next year, features 225 works of art in the form of paintings, photographs, sound recordings, and movies that explore queer expression and achievements in music, theater, and the visual arts all in the 20th century.

Notable artists whose works will be on display include photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, Andy Warhol, composer Leonard Bernstein, dancer and choreographer Bill T. Jones, activist Harmony Hammond, and artist Greer Lankton.

Among the works you’ll be able to look at include Bernstein’s annotated copy of Romeo and Juliet, where he got the inspiration for West Side Story, and this is accompanied by original drawings of the sets and costumes from the film; a scrapbook created by Mapplethorpe, and a life-size Diana Vreeland doll created by Lankton for a Barney’s window display.

"New York City, an international source of creativity throughout its history, provided the canvas, stage, and backdrop for LGBT artists and cultural innovators, and helped make it possible for them to transcend oppression and discrimination," Whitney Donhauser, MCNY’s director said in a statement. "Gay Gotham not only exhibits, but also celebrates the vibrant lives of artists who were suffering from injustice, and offers optimism for tomorrow."

The timeline of the exhibit spans from around 1910 and goes all the way to 1995 with three specific sections that stretch from 1910-1930, 1930-1960, and then 1960-1995. The exhibition space was designed by Joel Sanders Architects and occupies two full galleries at the museum. The gallery walls are painted purple for "the color traditionally associated with queer culture." The center of both the galleries have maps that look at gay neighborhoods, map key social and cultural events like protests and parades, and identify the popular nightspots.

The show was curated by the museum’s curator of architecture and design, Donald Albrecht, along with a postdoctoral fellow at the museum, Stephen Vider. Together, they’re also releasing a 304-page book by the same name as the exhibit, as an accompaniment to the show.

Museum of the City of New York

1220 5th Avenue, Manhattan, NY 10029 (212) 534-1672 Visit Website