Cornwall’s Queer Collection

Over the past 6 months we started researching the best steps for Queer Kernow’s collections, present and future. We decided to work with the local community to understand how our collections can best serve their needs. This idea has been led by the organic growth of the Queer Kernow Collection, which started in 2020, as we currently hold over 50 objects. Many of these objects and stories have been donated to us and was not something we set out to do, but is a byproduct of our close and trusting relationship with the queer community in Cornwall. 

The reason we have become an unofficial repository for community history – people’s personal objects, stories, and memories – is that we are community-led, front-facing and truly embedded within the Cornish LGBTQ+ sphere. We have a deep level of trust and understanding which isn’t always reflected with other local heritage organisations. This connection is what sparked the idea of finding a way to maintain, process, and develop our collection, as well as collaborate with other heritage organisations in Cornwall and share what we have been given with the wider community. 

We hope to use this research to find the best way of curating this collection, whether that is through long-term loans with heritage partners, a digital online collection hosted on a new Queer Kernow platform, or establishing a Queer Kernow physical space. 

We aim to find the right pathway by working closely with the local community to see what objects they would be interested in Queer Kernow exhibiting going forward, and how they would like to access the current collection. We ran a number of outreach events over the summer 2023, including pop ups at Cornwall Pride and Kresen Kernow, where we used prompt cards to encourage the public to share their responses to these questions. Here are some examples…