Articles and Features

10 Exhibitions Celebrating the Stonewall Riots

By Shira Wolfe

Stonewall Riots Diana Davies
Gay Liberation Front Marches on Times Square, New York City, 1969. Photo by Diana Davies. Courtesy New York Public Library

“The rebellion became the flashpoint that sparked the long uphill battle towards equality for all members of the gay community.” - Stonewall Inn Official Website

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. On June 28th 1969, patrons of the Stonewall Inn, a gay dive bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village, rebelled against a police raid. These raids and harassment by the authorities had become commonplace and the employees and patrons of the bar had had more than enough. The riots sparked six days of demonstrations which spread all over the United States. The Stonewall Riots were a pivotal moment in the gay rights movement, which have shaped the modern day gay rights movement as we know it today. Read on to discover 10 exhibitions around the world which celebrate and reflect upon Stonewall.

Stonewall Riots Photo
Lead Banner and Participants, 1972. Photo by Kay Tobin, courtesy New York Public Library

1. Love & Resistance: Stonewall 50

This exhibition at New York Public Library traces the injustices and harassment that lead up to the Stonewall Riots. Reports, photographs and objects from the protests from the archives of Kay Tobin Lahusen and Diana Davies paint a picture of this historical event. The exhibition pays an homage to the trailblazing gay rights activists in the ’60s and ’70s who paved the way for the LGBTQ+ community today.

The exhibition runs through 13 July 2019.

New York Public Library

Art After Stonewall
Installation view Art After Stonewall, 1969-89. Photo by Nick Papananias, courtesy Grey Art Gallery.

2. Art After Stonewall, 1969-89

Art After Stonewall focuses on the impact of Stonewall and the LGBTQ liberation movement on the art world. More than 200 works are divided into seven sections, covering topics ranging from gender, the body, fluid sexuality and identity, Aids and activism. Several portraits of Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, two prominent figures in the Stonewall Riots, are included. The exhibition opened jointly at New York University’s Grey Art Gallery and the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art. It will also travel to Columbus and Miami.

Runs through 20 July 2019 at Grey Art Gallery and 21 July 2019 at Leslie-Lohman.

Grey Art Gallery

Leslie Lohman

Tuesday Smillie Art
Tuesday Smillie, S.T.A.R., 2012. Courtesy the artist and Brooklyn Museum

3. Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall

This exhibition features 28 LGBTQ+ artists born after 1969. Their work grapples with the conditions of our time, and question how moments like Stonewall can become monuments. The artists explore themes of revolt, commemoration, care and desire through painting, sculpture, installation, performance and video art.

Runs through 8 December 2019 at the Brooklyn Museum

Brooklyn Museum

Lenke Szilágyi photograph
Bán Mari, 1981. Photo by Lenke Szilágyi, courtesy Mária Takács and Schwules Museum

4. Karol Radziszewski: Queer Archives Institute

The Schwules Museum Berlin, one of the foremost LGBTQ+ museums in the world, is exhibiting the “Queer Archives Institute”. Polish artist Karol Radziszewski curated this archive commemorating queer activism in Central and Eastern Europe. The aim is to expand people’s knowledge of queer activism and pride beyond the west.

The exhibition runs through 23 September 2019.

Schwules Museum

Stonewall 50
Installation view Stonewall 50. Courtesy Contemporary Arts Museum Houston

5. Stonewall 50

This exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston is conceived as a snapshot of the activities of a group of queer artists. The exhibition explores artists’ engagement with trans visibility, suggests possibilities for inter-generational dialogue and looks beyond the US to explore queer issues around the world.

The exhibition runs through 28 July 2019.

Contemporary Arts Museum Houston

Luciano Castelli Art
Luciano Castelli, Goldene Schallplatte 3, 1974. Courtesy the artist and Southbank Centre

6. Kiss My Genders

100 works from over 30 international artists are brought together in this exhibition at London’s Southbank Centre Hayward Gallery. The common thread among their works is the exploration of gender identity. “Kiss My Genders” spans the past 50 years and engages with gender fluidity and non-binary, trans and intersex identities.

The exhibition runs through 8 September 2019.

Hayward Gallery

Mapplethorpe Now
Installation view Mapplethorpe Now. Courtesy Guggenheim

7. Implicit Tensions: Mapplethorpe Now

Robert Mapplethorpe’s iconic, provocative photography will be featured in this year-long exhibition at the Guggenheim New York. Mapplethorpe, who has become a cultural icon and an icon for the LGBTQ+ community, is rightly honoured in conjunction with the 50-year anniversary of Stonewall. The first half of the exhibition, which runs till 10 July 2019, features highlights of the artist’s work. Polaroids, collages, mixed-media constructions, and of course his brilliantly bold and honest photographs are on view. The second half of the exhibition, which runs from 24 July 2019 to 5 January 2020, focuses on Mapplethorpe’s legacy in the field of contemporary art. A selection of his photographs will be hung in dialogue with works by contemporary artists.

Guggenheim New York

Activists at Pride March
Eugene Gordon, ACT UP activists at Pride March, 1988. Courtesy New York Historical Society Library

8. Stonewall 50 - New York Historical Society

The New York Historical Society traces the history of gay culture and activism in the second half of the 20th century. Exhibited objects include photographs from 1980s Pride marches, Aids awareness pins and highlights from the lesbian herstory archives.

Running through 22 September 2019

New York Historical Society

Fred W. McDarragh Photograph
Fred W. McDarragh, Hero. Courtesy Museum of the City of New York

9. Voice of the Village: Fred W McDarrah Photographs

Fred W McDarrah was a New York photographer for the Village Voice. He captured great musicians and writers including Bob Dylan, Jack Kerouac and Allan Ginsberg throughout the ‘70s. However, few people know that McDarrah was also one of the handful of photographers to capture the Stonewall Riots in 1969. The Museum of the City of New York celebrates the photographer’s long-overlooked achievements with two exhibitions that run alongside each other. “Voice of the Village” comprises 150 photographs, while “Pride” shows 40 photographs of Pride marches throughout the years.

The exhibitions will be on till 31 December 2019.

Museum of the City of New York

Victoria and Albert Museum LGBTQ Tours.
Victoria and Albert Museum LGBTQ Tours. Courtesy Victoria and Albert Museum.

10. LGBTQ Tours, Victoria and Albert Museum

Every last Saturday of the month, until 30 November 2019, visitors can join a free tour at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The tours will be led by volunteer hosts who will share the hidden LGBTQ history behind some of the museum’s most treasured objects.

The last tour takes place on Saturday 30 November 2019.

Victoria and Albert Museum