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Uncovering and Celebrating Stories Yet Untold: Digging into LGBTQIA+ Stories Hiding in Plain Sight in Collections, Historic sites, and Galleries

Pre-conference Workshop

Location: New York State Museum 

Time: 1 - 3:30 PM

About: LGBTQIA+ lives are frequently underrepresented in our museum collections and interpretation, as well as in registries of historic sites. Once we have determined to preserve and share more queer stories, where do we start? This workshop will explore diverse examples of stories that have been uncovered, and how we are documenting them and sharing with visitors. Participants will discuss potential stories at their own sites, and begin to explore resources to help learn more about them.


Ashley Hopkins-Benton (she/her), Senior Historian and Curator of Social History, New York State Museum

Ashley Hopkins-Benton is a Senior Historian and Curator of Social History at the New York State Museum. Her research and collections focuses include women’s history, LGBTQ+ history, immigration, sculpture, and toys, and she works to build collections representation of underrepresented voices. She co-curated "Votes for Women: Celebrating New York’s Suffrage Centennial," a 2017 exhibition and accompanying catalogue, with Jennifer Lemak, and is the author of "Breathing Life Into Stone: The Sculpture of Henry DiSpirito."

Dr. Jeffry Iovannone (he/him), Preservation Planner, Landmarks Society of Western New York

Dr. Jeffry Iovanne is a historian and historic preservation planner from Buffalo, New York. His areas of interest and specialization include the social history of the built environment, LGBTQ heritage conservation, queer site-based history, and New York State history. His approach to preservation combines social and architectural history and moves beyond the built environment as a material object to document and conserve the intangible stories and heritage connected to “place.”

Margaret Middleton (they/them), Independent exhibit designer and museum consultant, independent consultant

Margaret Middleton is an American independent exhibit designer and museum consultant currently based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. With a degree in industrial design from the Rhode Island School of Design and nearly 20 years of experience in the museum field, they work at the intersection of design and social justice. Middleton developed the popular Family Inclusive Language Chart and consults with museums on implementing inclusive practice with special focus on children, gender minorities, and queer people.

Lauraberth Lima (they/she), Professor of Museum Studies, Cultural Consultant, New York University

Lauraberth (they/she) is a Professor of Museum Studies at New York University. Lima is also an established Cultural Consultant with 15 years of experience in education, community engagement, curatorial practice, and cultural competence building in cultural institutions. Lauraberth brings a social justice lens to consulting through interdisciplinary expertise in intergenerational engagement, BIPOC representation in the arts, health equity, museum and art education, youth development, early childhood education, as well as programming for LGBTQ2SIA+/gender expansive communities.

Kit Thomas (they/them she/her), Artist

Kit Thomas (they/ she) is a Two Spirit Haudenosaunee artist from the St. Regis Mohawk Territory of Akwesasne. Kit draws inspiration from their Indigenous heritage and incorporates traditional motifs and symbols into their work. Through their art, Kit aims to challenge stereotypes and promote greater understanding and acceptance of two-spirit people. Their work is deeply rooted in their culture and identity, exploring the intersections of gender, sexuality, and spirituality.

Presentation FormatHybrid: panel, structured discussion, hands-on research, and gallery and/or collections tour

Session categories:

  • Shared the relevance and importance of collections, 
  • Adapted programming to meet audience needs, 
  • Crafted new interpretive strategies to increase community engagement, 
  • Expanded mission to serve new audiences, 
  • Secured and improved accessibility to historic structures, 
  • Changed organizational culture

        What to expect:

        Participants will learn that there are so many artifacts and places that have a queer history, well beyond the obvious ones. They will learn tools and strategies for thinking more creatively about their collections or sites, and for researching this history, as well as techniques for sharing it with the public (even in institutions that may have little flexibility in their galleries). They will leave with a toolkit for beginning this work in their own intuitions/communities. In exploring diverse examples ranging from small interpretative changes in language to exhibitions that center LGBTQIA+ content from the beginning, they will hopefully leave with a sense that there is something they can do in their own institutions, even if it is in little steps (or, in the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, "The way to begin is to begin.").

        Pre-Conference Workshop Cancellation Policy

        If for any reason, MANY cancels a pre-conference workshop, we will issue you a full refund. 

        If you cancel your registration before April 1, that request must be made in writing via email to We will refund you the full amount of your registration, minus a $15 administrative fee. 

        Refunds requested after April 1 will not be granted, including requests made based on absence due to illness, late arrival and/or weather conditions. No refunds will be issued on special event tickets at any point due to restaurants and caterers requiring payment in advance; you are welcome to give or sell them to a colleague attending the conference.

        Please see your hotel confirmation email for your individual hotel reservation cancellation policy. 

        Video/Photography Policy

        By registering for and attending our Annual Conference "Giving Voice to Value" you grant the Museum Association of New York (MANY) and its authorized representatives permission to film, photograph, or otherwise record your participation in the conference and associated special events.

        You further agree that such images, photographs, and recordings may be used by MANY without your prior approval in any form and for any lawful purpose including, without limitation, promoting MANY. Such use will not entitle you to any credit or compensation.

        You release MANY, its officers, and employees from any liability connected with the use of any image, photograph, or recording taken during MANY's Annual Conference and associated special events.

        Conference Code of Conduct

        The Museum Association of New York (MANY) is dedicated to providing a safe, inclusive, and welcoming conference experience for all participants. All attendees are expected to follow this Code of Conduct, which applies to all pre-conference workshops, concurrent sessions, special events, and capstone experiences.

        Compliance with the Code of Conduct is expected from all conference participants; including, but not limited to, attendees, speakers, staff, organizers, contractors, volunteers, exhibitors, and sponsors. Read more.

        The Museum Association of New York helps shape a better future for museums and museum professionals by uplifting best practices and building organizational capacity through advocacy, training, and networking opportunities.

        Museum Association of New York is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization. 

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