An in­ten­tional tour

GA Voice - - Georgianews -

When the At­lanta His­tory Cen­ter was putting to­gether their new sig­na­ture ex­hibit, called Gath­er­ound: Sto­ries of At­lanta, they knew they had a lot of tools at their dis­posal. It would be lo­cated in a greatly ex­panded, 7,700 square-foot space just off the Cen­ter’s newly ex­panded lobby, and it would be the only ex­hibit that opens up to the lobby.

It was re­plac­ing an ex­hibit that had been there for over 20 years, with the in­ten­tion of Gath­er­ound be­ing there as long or more. But un­like that pre­vi­ous ex­hibit, Gath­er­ound was de­signed so that pieces and themes can change over the years, open­ing it up to a world of pos­si­bil­i­ties. And change was ex­actly the rea­son the Cen­ter de­cided it was time for a new ex­hibit. The ex­plo­sive post-Olympics growth of the city needed to be re­flected at the Cen­ter, or­ga­niz­ers say, and they stocked it with 750 ar­ti­facts, doc­u­ments, pho­to­graphs, and books to help prove it.

But they also wanted to be in­clu­sive of all of the voices through­out the city’s his­tory, in­clud­ing those who had been silent of their own vo­li­tion, or had been si­lenced by oth­ers. And that meant a more sig­nif­i­cant role for the city’s LGBT com­mu­nity, espe­cially con­sid­er­ing all of the changes the com­mu­nity has been through since the early 1990s.

“The his­tory of At­lanta is sim­ply not com­plete as a nar­ra­tive of the most pow­er­ful and dom­i­nant voices,” said At­lanta His­tory Cen­ter staff his­to­rian and “Gath­er­ound” cu­ra­tor Calinda Lee. “LGBTQ peo­ple have helped to de­fine this city — and well be­fore there was even a ‘move­ment’ to speak of. We fea­ture mem­bers of the LGBTQ com­mu­nity through­out the ex­hi­bi­tion be­cause it’s our in­ten­tion to af­firm that we are all a part of this com­mu­nity to­gether and we need not rel­e­gate LGBTQ com­mu­nity mem­bers to dis­cus­sions of LGBTQ-fo­cused is­sues.”

To achieve that, Lee put to­gether a com­mit­tee of 12 LGBT past or present res­i­dents of At­lanta, in­clud­ing for­mer At­lanta Pride Gath­er­ound, the At­lanta His­tory Cen­ter’s new ex­hibit, in­cludes the first panel from the NAMES Project AIDS Memo­rial Quilt (l) and videos from LGBT Ge­or­gians (r). (Pho­tos by Pa­trick Saun­ders) direc­tor Buck Cooke, The Health Ini­tia­tive ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor Linda El­lis, The Ba­ton Foun­da­tion founder and CEO An­thony Knight, and 7 Stages The­atre mar­ket­ing direc­tor Charles Swint.

If you make your way through the cav­ernous and pris­tine At­lanta His­tory Cen­ter lobby and pass through the en­try­way into Gather- ound, you’re greeted by a huge rec­tan­gu­lar high-def­i­ni­tion screen show­ing an ori­en­ta­tion film. The first voice to greet you? That of gay At­lanta pro­moter (and Georgia Voice colum­nist) Bill Kaelin, who speaks about the im­por­tance of his­tory for ev­ery­one, his Mid­town neigh­bor­hood and the role the LGBT com­mu­nity has played in that area. Im­ages of At­lanta Pride marches go­ing back over 30 years follow.

As you make your way far­ther through the ex­hibit, you no­tice that it’s not set up in your typ­i­cal chrono­log­i­cal ap­proach. In­stead, Gath­er­ound is di­vided into four the­matic zones: Fam­ily & Com­mu­nity, Pol­i­tics & Jus­tice, Ur­ban Growth and Cul­tural Life.

LGBT At­lantans are most heav­ily rep­re­sented in the Fam­ily & Com­mu­nity zone CON­TIN­UES ON PAGE 7

Septem­ber 16, 2016

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