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Cash crunch hits Lesbian Museum

Thu 4 Jun 2009 In: New Zealand Daily News View at NDHA

The world's only official lesbian museum may have to relocate further away from the centre of Auckland due to funding difficulties. The Charlotte Museum Trust opened to the public last year on Grey Lynn's Surrey Crescent, as a boutique museum documenting and preserving lesbian culture and history for the benefit and understanding of future generations. Founder Dr. Miriam Saphira says the organisation's main funders like the ASB Trust have reacted to the recession with cutbacks to the amounts they can give out to support community initiatives like the museum. The rent on the museum's 95 square-metre space is currently $500 a week. Saphira is hoping to negotiate for a rent reduction, but must shortly decide on whether to move the museum further out, citing Kingsland as an option. A new location would ideally be of a similar size, with some parking available. Saphira acknowledges the recent support of the Lion Foundation who donated a computer to the museum, and the Gay Auckland Business Association, which gave the Trust $1,200 to buy a scanner/copier/printer. WHAT'S ON The Charlotte Museum currently hosts two or three events a month and recently celebrated Freda Stark's birthday with a 1946 film of her dancing, courtesy of the New Zealand Film Archive. "We are open to the general public and have had good feedback from a wide range of people, parents, students and other interested individuals," she says, adding that many international tourists visited during the summer months. "Visitors from the general public are always interested in the association New Zealand lesbians have with Greek history and show much interest in the Labrys stand but it is the Coming Out Stories which are the most popular with visitors." The museum is currently showing an early lesbian theatre exhibition and staff invite the public to come and broaden their knowledge of the wide range of theatrical activities from 1940's to the 1990's. "Visitors can read stories of strong relationships, writers, artists and musicians, of forced incarceration and bizarre treatments amongst the celebration of the history, or herstory, of lesbians in New Zealand," says Saphira. The Charlotte Museum Trust is also still collecting objects with significant lesbian meaning, and is always on the look-out for items from the 1920's to the 1960's, such as photos or objects which belonged to lesbian women of generations gone by.    

Credit: Daily News Staff

First published: Thursday, 4th June 2009 - 5:53pm

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