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First GLBT History Museum in U.S. opens in San Francisco’s Castro District

Internationally renowned as a center for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender culture, San Francisco soon will welcome yet another groundbreaking queer institution: The GLBT History Museum.

A project of the GLBT Historical Society, an archives and research center established in 1985, the new museum will be the first of its kind in the United States—and only the second in the world. The grand opening is set for the evening of Jan. 13, 2011.

“The GLBT History Museum is in the heart of the Castro, a neighborhood visited not only by locals, but also by tens of thousands of tourists every year who come in search of queer culture,” said Paul Boneberg, executive director of the Historical Society. “At our museum, they’ll discover treasures from our archives that reflect fascinating stories spanning nearly a century of GLBT life. We have gone all out to create a museum as rich, diverse and surprising as the GLBT community itself.”

Located at 4127 18th St., just a few doors from Castro Street, the space includes two galleries, a reception area and a museum store.

With assistance from Bevan Dufty, who was then the member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for the district, the Historical Society negotiated an agreement under which the master tenant for the storefront, Walgreen Company, constructed the 1,600-square-foot space to the society’s specifications.

Funding from Levi’s, the City of San Francisco, Castro district merchants, and numerous other sponsors and donors covered the cost of custom fixtures and display cases, lighting and multimedia installations.

According to, Scott Wiener, the newly elected supervisor for the district once represented by Harvey Milk, “The opening of the GLBT History Museum marks a milestone for the Castro, for the city of San Francisco and for the country as a whole. This innovative new institution will bring the history of LGBT people alive in the very neighborhood where so much of that history has happened.... I'm proud to welcome this vital addition to the neighborhood and look forward to helping ensure its ongoing success.”

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