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.

Art from the Archives

Celebrating art inspired by people and stories from Chicago queer history, this exhibit features three artists who create new works from our archive, including print materials and oral history interviews.

The exhibit features four artists: Jose Luis Benavides, Amanda Cervantes, James Hosking, and Sam Kirk and celebrates work that has been inspired by materials in Gerber/Hart’s collections. The exhibit consists of three displays – Amigas Latinas Forever (Jose Luis Benavides & Amanda Cervantes), The Personals (James Hosking), and Portrait of Marge Summit [Sam Kirk, commissioned by Queer In(n), a curated, generative public arts program founded by Kelli Simpkins and Adithi Chandrashekar].

Each display is accompanied by archival materials from Gerber/Hart.

Learn more about the artists and each display here.

On display in the Sandfield Exhibition Gallery through Spring 2024.

A Dreamhouse of Our Own: An Examination of Dolls, Play, and Queer Identity

In early 2023, volunteers Olivia De Keyser and Steven Russell surveyed LGBTQ+ communities about their experiences with dolls and action figures and how these experiences informed their queer identities. Survey responses were collected and incorporated into a “Queer Dreamhouse” using donated and loaned dolls, furniture, and artwork from community members. A reception for the exhibit opening was held on August 5th featuring an artist talk from GNAT Glitter Kink and a screening of Life Size at The Leather Archives & Museum.

A Dreamhouse of Our Own was curated by Olivia De Keyser. Graphic Design by Steven Russell. Supporting Artist and Photography by Wren Lively.

On display in Gerber/Hart’s Reading Room through the end of 2023.

De-Coded: Surviving the Law as a Sexual Deviant

In 1961, Illinois became the first state in the US to decriminalize sodomy, one of many legal codes meant to classify homosexuals as outlaws. Crimes of sodomy, crossdressing, and even vagrancy were expressly used to target the community, making them second class citizens seemingly unworthy of protections under the law. Forced to choose between safety and authenticity, queer Chicagoans still found ways to thrive in the face of these shifting forms of oppression.

[De]Coded: Surviving the Law as a Sexual Deviant is curated by Anna Mason, Whit Sadusky, and Jess Smoot. Graphic design by Kurt Conley.

Currently on Display in Howard Brown waiting area through Spring 2024

Past Exhibits

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.

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.

Co-sponsored with Chicago Women’s History Center

Comic Books

The exhibit displays comics from a span of nearly 50 years, examining three themes in particular: style and identity, AIDS, and anger. The exhibit includes work from cartoonists like Alison Bechdel and Howard Cruse, as well as comics produced by government agencies and mainstream publishers. The exhibit is on display through March 2022 in the Library Reading Room.

Organization Pins

Organizations are a foundation for LGBTQ communities. A selection of local and national organization pins from political, service and performance organizations are on display.

Was on display in the Walgreens waiting area through late 2022.

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.