Our exhibits are always free and open to the public. We graciously ask for a suggested $5 donation or a give-what-you-can to support our ongoing mission and free access to all.

Q: Activism at the Margins of Identity

Emerging as an outgrowth of the AIDS pandemic and the activism it brought forth, the 1990s saw a new wave of advocacy sweep through queer communities in Chicago and across the country. Political hostility, gay-for-pay media representation, and ongoing threats of physical violence pushed queer identities to the margins of society. Embracing otherness, they discovered strength in radical activism and artistic expression, transforming the concept of Queer.

“Q: Activism at the Margins of Identity” opens in early September 2020.

Lavender Women & Killer Dykes: Lesbians, Feminism, and Community in Chicago

In the 1970s and 1980s, as the women’s liberation movement was gaining momentum, lesbians worked both within and outside of the feminist movement to create a better, more inclusive world for all women. In Chicago, lesbians organized community centers, music festivals, bookstores, newsletters, publishing presses, and health centers that created spaces to benefit and centered women’s issues. While conflicts arose over what both a feminist space and a lesbian space meant (and who would be included or excluded), the vast number of spaces in this period of Chicago’s history reflects a truly diverse group of women fighting to create a better world.

The exhibit is in the Norman Sandfield Gallery and runs through August 2020.

Co-sponsored with

Out of the Closets & into the Streets

Power, Pride & resistance in Chicago’s Gay Liberation Movement

This exhibit traces the Gay Liberation Movement’s presence in Chicago from its beginnings in the late 1960s to the city’s first large gay rights protest in 1977 at the historic Medinah Temple in downtown River North. As new organizations and events sprouted up on college campuses and a rising number of lesbian and gay publications emerged, the voice of the movement and the LGBTQ community grew louder and more visible, producing a rich portrait of gay liberation in Chicago that survives today. This exhibit offers a closer look at the tools and organizers of the Gay Liberation Movement, providing a glimpse into the national issues that Chicago’s LGBTQ community faced and their intersection with other societal and cultural movements of the time. The exhibit is in the Howard Brown waiting room and runs through September 2020.

Merchandise Catalogs

The exhibit highlights highlights a selection of LGBTQ-focused clothing, book, and accessories catalogs from the 1960s through the 1990s. The exhibit is in the library reading room and runs through August 2020.

LGBTQ-themed Hard Rock Cafe Pins

Hard Rock Cafe has issued hundreds of collectible pins over the years for various occasions and with a broad range of themes, including rainbow themed pins, with some “generic” rainbow pins being labeled as pride pins. Other rainbow themed pins are specifically LGBTQ-identified. This exhibit is a selection of the Hard Rock Cafe pins from the Norman Sandfield Collection of Gerber/Hart Library and Archives. The exhibit is in the Walgreens Pharmacy waiting area and runs through July 2020.

A Bit of Boystory

In celebration of the Chicago revival of The Boys in the Band at Windy City Playhouse, Gerber/Hart has curated an exhibit highlighting the initial 1968 New York and initial 1969 Chicago runs. The exhibit can be viewed when attending the play (doors and the bar open one hour prior to showtime). Included in the exhibit are reproductions—that you can look through—of the Playbill from the 1969 Chicago performance at the Studebaker Theatre. The exhibit will run for the entirety of the play’s run. For information about Windy City Playhouse and their performances of The Boys in the Band go to windycityplayhouse.com.

Exhibits in Howard Brown waiting room and Walgreens are viewable during their open hours: Mon-Thur 9 am–6 pm, Fri 9 am–5 pm, and Sat 9 am–3 pm.