Sydney’s Qtopia gay history museum starts to take shape

Ian Roberts stands in Taylor Square in front of the building that will host the Qtopia museum
The Qtopia museum will tell the story of the LGBTIQA+ community in Sydney. Photo: supplied.

A draft floor plan for Qtopia Sydney’s Centre for Queer History and Culture has been made public for the first time, giving a glimpse into the unfolding shape of the museum that will showcase the history of the LGBTQIA+ community in Sydney.

The unfinalised floor plan was revealed in an information pack for artists wanting to take part in Qtopia’s “Live at Qtopia Sydney” performance series which will begin in early 2024.

According to the plans, visitors will enter the building through doors on Forbes Street that will lead them through an Acknowledgement of Country corridor.

Branching off this corridor is a large space dedicated to the history of trans people in Sydney, and the lobby for the museum which will be dominated by a five metre tall memorial to lives lost during the HIV epidemic.

Next to the lobby is a gift shop that visitors can make their way through in exiting the museum.

From the main lobby, the museum branches into two wings that surround a central courtyard Garden of Contemplation.

Two rooms directly behind the memorial tell the story of the HIV epidemic in Australia, and Ward 17 South at St Vincent’s Hospital – which Qtopia recreated for World Pride earlier this year inside the National Art School.

In one wing is a large space dedicated to queer First Nations peoples and their stories, and an exhibition about Sydney World Pride.

Further down this corridor is a “We’re Here, We’re Queer and Recording” pod, which will presumably feature audiovisual material, and another room dedicated to LGBTIQA+ community media.

There will also be a room telling the story behind Qtopia Sydney in this part of the museum.

In the other wing, three converted jail cells hold exhibits telling the history of the Darlinghurst Police Station and the events of 1978, culminating in the first Mardi Gras – and “Making Bail” which will presumably tell the stories of the Mardi Gras arrestees.

A large room next to this holds exhibits with the themes of “Crime, Discrimination [and] Human Rights.”

Opposite this is an exhibition about the Dykes on Bikes and the stories of queer women in Sydney, and the entry to the museum’s central courtyard.

A large space at the rear of the museum will house The Loading Dock theatre, with its own lobby and a bar, that will be accessed through a separate entrance on Forbes Street. This will have a green room behind the stage for performers.

The Loading Dock is one of three performance spaces that will operate as satellites to the museum, the others being The Bandstand in Green Park and a new theatrical space inside the old Taylor Square electrical substation which is still subject to council approval.

The Loading Dock will hold 60 people with tickets set between $35 and $55, while the Bandstand will hold up to 40 people with tickets between $15 and $35.

The Substation will hold between 40 and 50 people with tickets between $30 and $45.

Qtopia Sydney director and NIDA graduate Ian Roberts said the team at Qtopia have been working hard to “create culturally unique programs and to ensure more stages are available to interested artists.”

“Each of the spaces is truly unique and rich with history – in fact, all three are heritage listed.

Roberts said that “Live at Qtopia Sydney” would provide “live engagement opportunities to extend the knowledge, empathy and understanding gained from a visit to our exhibitions, by provoking conversation through the mediums of live performance and events. It’s delivery of education in yet another format.”

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Andrew M Potts

Andrew has been covering LGBTQIA+ issues for a range of publications in Australia over two decades and was the Asia-Pacific correspondent for global LGBTQIA+ news website Gay Star News.

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

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