Untold London

20 11 2009

I just came across an excellent website called Untold London. The website explores the histories that relate to all the people of London  as they are told in museums, galleries, archives and community heritage organisations.  The information that is left out or often ignored adds a layer of reality to the stories of the past that, if known, would help us to better relate to and understand the present.

The website is run in collaboration between a number of organisations with experience in the London history and heritage sector, and managed by the London Museums Hub.

Thursday night, Untold London in association with the British Museum launched a downloadable tour of Gay London. You can download this tour here: www.britishmuseum.org/explore/themes/same-sex_desire_and_gender/introduction.aspx

At the launch, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Ben Bradshaw praised the initiative calling it “an excellent marker for the rest of the Museum sector.”

Sara Wajid, Manager of UntoldLondon said, “Richard Parkinson, curator at the British Museum told me a story about the bisexual writer Marguerite Yourcenar. She had been walking amongst the imposing displays of the Emperor Hadrian and his lover Antinous at the British museum, but she found nothing there about their passionate relationship. It was the silences in the museum version of their life that sparked her imagination to fill in the gaps about one of the greatest untold love stories. The result was the modern classic Mémoires d’Hadrien a fictionalised account of Hadrian’s life and love for Antinous published in 1951 to great critical acclaim. This was the inspiration for the competition.”

The website does not only cover LGBT history and issues, however. This website collates information from all under-represented groups. The lead news article is about London’s new Jewish Museum, set to bring together an impressive collection held at two locations into one new museum opening in Spring 2010 in Camden Town. Related articles cover the history of Yemen and British Yemenis and the Austrian Cultural Forum.

On a related note, a gay tourist office has recently opened in Soho.  The Gay Tourist Board, located at 30 Lisle Street, London WC2H 7BA (above Ku Bar), will serve as a hub for both LGBT residents of London as well as for the large number of gay and lesbian tourists to the capital.

Centre director Shaun Newport said, “‘We want to show that London’s exciting LGBT life is the best in the world. We will show off what our city has to offer to local, national and international visitors, as well as to Londoners old and new.”

Follow the Gay Tourist Office on Twitter and be a fan on Facebook or visit the website at http://www.gaytouristoffice.co.uk.



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