In Pictures: Matt Smith casts queer eye over Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery collection

By Richard Moss | 05 November 2010
a photograph of a museum central hallway with a paintings on the curved walls and a central winged figure decorated with foliage
Lucifer © Matt Smith
Exhibition: Matt Smith - Queering the Museum, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham, until January 30 2010

Artist and curator Matt Smith has been let loose at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, where he has cast a queer eye over their wide-ranging collection of artworks and historic objects.

Smith recently co-curated a show in Brighton that similarly unravelled the interior and collection of Preston Manor House, and he has transferred his innovative methods of interacting with space and objects for this latest project.

a photo of a porcelain figure with other objects and figures in the background
Polari© Matt Smith
Instead of grouping works by “gay artists”, or collecting objects related to gay lives, he has created a new series of works and drawn objects from the collections which resonate with him and, he hopes, with the queer community.

The intention, he says, is to show that “that there are queer histories everywhere – you just need to look for them”.

“Museums are getting better at reflecting racial and cultural diversity," he adds, "but most still shy away from representing, or discussing, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people or lives. Homophobia is rife in museums through silence and omission.”

At BMAG, who Smith credits with being “brave and groundbreaking”, the trail of objects is seeded right through the museum.

The result is a series of interactions, juxtapositions and subtle interventions that tease out the links between a varied collection of objects including An Athlete Strangling a Python, salt-glazed bears and apothecary drug jars.
a photo of a collection of blue and white porcelain objects with a central vase which has a modern motif featuring an image of a high street with CCTV camera on it
Drug Jars © Matt Smith
a photograph of two high healed shoes and a decorated shoe horn resting on them
Drag© Matt Smith
a photo of a stuffed Otter in a case with a porcelain figurine of an otter and bear in the foreground
Bears and Otters© Matt Smith
Queering the Museum is an Arts Council Funded exhibition in conjunction with Festival of queer culture SHOUT! and Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.
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