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How Can We Talk About It?: Disrupting Heteronormativity Through Historic House Museums

Thesis by Joshua Buckner (2016)

Increasingly, museums are engaging in conversations around queer topics to make connections with a community that has historically been absent from museums. We, as museum professionals, have the opportunity to continue these conversations. The purpose of this research is to describe ways historic house museums engage in queer dialogue and understand how this role may disrupt heteronormativity within the museum field. This research investigates three historic house museums who engage in queer dialogue and includes staff interviews and a group discussion comprised of museum professionals and members of LGBTQ organizations. Findings suggest that by existing and actively changing the conversations had within their museums, these historic house museums are disrupting heteronormativity. The data also suggests a need and demand to have museological platforms for queer histories. It is hoped that this study will express the importance of museums to engage in conversations around queer voice and to help guide museums wishing to engage in queer dialogue.


Keywords: historic house museums, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, narrative, dialogue, heteronormativity, engagement, community, representation, authenticity, interpretation, social change, exhibitions, programs, education, social change, advocacy, research


Buckner, J. (2016). How can we talk about it?: Disrupting heteronormativity through historic house museums. (Order No. 10138506). Available from Dissertations & Theses @ University of Washington WCLP; ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (1804037735). Retrieved from