After seeing the collection in RaD, Hough knew that she wanted this to be the subject of her final project. “I decided to take a look at a local movement, the Boulder Gay Liberation Front (BGL). This visit to the archives was not long after the shooting that occurred at Club Q in Colorado Springs, and I was inspired to demonstrate that the fight for LGBTQ+ liberation is far from over,” she said
“While it is not typical for museums and libraries to let people outside of the institution curate exhibitions, the role of the university is to offer different experiences to students as part of their education,” said Aldama. “Allowing different people to curate exhibitions—including students—also serves as a way to decolonize museums and libraries by allowing new perspectives to highlight collections. Mattie has done a great job shedding light on these materials.”
Working with Aldama, Velte and Conservator Hillary Morgan, Hough learned how to curate an exhibition from selecting materials to writing interpretive text to the practicalities of displaying sometimes fragile objects.
“I spent hours in the archives going through every document in the collection,” Hough said. “Emily did a wonderful job organizing the materials, which made it easy to find specific documents. The collection is mostly made up of directories for the group, newspaper clippings detailing the progress of national and local liberation movements magazines, flyers for dances sponsored by the organization, and many copies of different newsletters produced by the group.”
In addition to including materials that showcased the main goals of the organization—educating the community, fighting for legal rights and providing a space for the LGBTQ+ communities of Boulder and the surrounding areas to socialize—Hough also wanted to include an interactive component for the exhibition.
“This took the form of a QR code that visitors can scan to view other resources, such as a link to an oral interview with Byron Sullivan, the founder of BGL, conducted in 1973 by History Colorado. It also links to sites like LGBTQ+ resources at CU Boulder, more information on RaD Collections, and a link that guides visitors to leave feedback and thoughts about what is on display,” said Hough. “It was difficult to pick and choose materials from the collection as there were so many that I found important to tell the story of this group and the impact they made. I hope others are inspired to take a closer look at the history of LGBTQ+ rights in their community.”