In addition to being an atheneum of literature and research, Virginia Commonwealth University's James Branch Cabell Library is the host for "Migrating Archives: LGBT Delegates from Collections around the World." This exhibition on "queer history" from San Francisco's GLBT History Museum is making its first East Coast visit at VCU through Dec. 31.
Wesley Chenault, head of special collections and archives for VCU Libraries, worked with curator E.G. Crichton, an artist and professor at the University of Southern California-Santa Cruz, to bring the exhibit to Richmond in hopes of engaging communities both on and off campus.
The project was inspired by Crichton's residency at the GLBT Historical Society, which sponsors the San Francisco museum. Seduced by history, Crichton was inspired to learn about the experiences of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people in different times and places. Crichton invited LGBT organizations across the globe to send archives for the exhibition.
"It's an intimate way of knowing our present and our past collectively," Chenault says. Displayed on hanging panels on the library's first floor are compilations of poems, letters, art and photographs that illustrate the histories of 10 people.
"The thing I like about projects like this is that it takes sort of ordinary people who maybe had a minute of publicity and makes them physical," Crichton said during a speech at VCU's opening reception. The exhibit is free and open during regular library hours.
One of the stories presented is that of the late Hunter Stagg, a dashing Richmond writer, editor and active member of the 1920s literary scene whose papers are part of Cabell's collection. Those include correspondence with poet Langston Hughes and author Gertrude Stein, among other luminaries.
"Stagg is an entry point into a literary trajectory" in the United States, Chenault says. "He may not have achieved the same status as some of his contemporaries, but when we look back, there are reasons why he should be remembered today." 828-1101 or library.vcu.edu.