Heritage Lottery funding received for our LGBTQ+ heritage partnership

Vita Sackville-West's desk at Sissinghurst

We’re pleased to share the news that almost £100k in funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Digital Skills for Heritage initiative will support a new digital skills programme for the Queer Heritage Collections Network.

What is the Queer Heritage Collections Network?

In early 2020, we launched the QHCN as a founding member with English Heritage, Historic England, Historic Royal Palaces, and the Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (University of Leicester).

The QHCN aims to share knowledge, skills, expertise and best practice across national and regional heritage sites and collections working with LGBTQ+ histories in the UK.

What will the funding support?

This funding will go towards supporting the QHCN which includes more than 50 members across four nations to deliver a programme of digital activities.

We’ll continue to build relationships with network members, and roll-out a digital programme of training and workshops on queer collections and heritage themes. This will include:

  • Peer support and mentoring for QHCN members
  • Crowd-sourcing new research of LGBTQ+ heritage
  • Community-led online activities and workshops
  • Organising ‘tagathons’ to identify new connections to queer heritage in five member museums
  • Providing creative access to these objects and narratives through an online hub, which will provide a central point to help the public and professionals be better connected to work with queer heritage collections across the UK.

The Queer Heritage and Collections Network wins at the Museums and Heritage Awards 2021

The Queer Heritage and Collections Network has won Best Partnership 2021 at the Museum and Heritage Awards. Host, Samira Ahmed commended the Network for, "helping to ensure diverse voices are at the table and representation and inclusion are embedded at the core of all activity. This is the definition of effective collaboration".

Accepting the award, Co-Project Manager Rachael Lennon said, "The Network is fundamentally about bringing people together. I think in this sort of year of feeling so disconnected and not being able to get in the same room, it has been exciting to connect people and it's great to have that recognised. And this is just year one for the network, so I'm thrilled to be able to start with a bang like this, and we're hoping to go onto bigger and even better things in the next few years".

Co-Project Manager Dan Vo added, "Together we've built a network that is fabulous. We need to thank the founding partners, our independent researchers Lucy Whitehead (University of Cardiff) and Kris Reid (Ulster University) as well as supporters National Heritage Lottery Fund and Art Fund. It's great to be able to say that we now have 75 organisations across the UK across four regions and nations that are engaging in LGBTQ+ history and heritage and that's a wonderful thing. The pursuit to carry on doing that with all the local communities and people that that involves is simply superb".

After the ceremony Co-Director of RCMG, Richard Sandell said, "This award is especially welcome at this crucial moment for the sector. Although there has been growing interest in revealing and presenting queer histories, many organisations still find this work challenging. Importantly, the Network provides support to take forward new thinking and practice and recognition from the Museum and Heritage Awards 2021 gives all of us involved in this work, the impetus and encouragement to move forward in bold and exciting ways".

How will the National Trust be involved?

We're a founding member of the QHCN, alongside four other major heritage bodies and organisations. We’ll be administering the grant and working with our partners to select and engage with five museums from the network to improve digital connections to LGBTQ+ in heritage collections.

The Beech Avenue near Kingston Lacy, Dorset

Exploring LGBTQ+ history at National Trust places 

Learn more about the LGBTQ+ links at places we care for, and how the National Heritage Lottery Fund has donated to the Queer Heritage Collections Network, of which we're a founding member. You can also learn about how in 2017, we marked 50 years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality by exploring the LGBTQ+ heritage at many of our places.