The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum at the University of Exeter is a museum of moving image history looking at audience’s fascination with moving pictures over three centuries. It contains a wealth of fascinating material to explore for LGBT+ History Month every year, but particularly in 2023 with the ‘Behind the Lens’ theme.

In 2021 museum volunteers Rosanna and Milan worked with the ‘Translating for Change Project’ to produce a display highlighting our LGBT+ collections. The digital exhibition and history trail they produced for this are still available and you can access them through  or access the trail directly here.

Our collections also hold a treasure trove of material on LGBT+ artists, whether they be stars such as Rock Hudson, William Haines, Ian McKellen, or the reputedly bisexual Greta Garbo or Marlene Dietrich, or those that created the films ‘behind the lens’. We hold significant collections on Derek Jarman, in both our  Don Boyd and James Mackay Archives. James, as well as producing much of Jarman’s later work, has been a key figure in experimental Gay filmmaking since the 1970s. The museum also has large collections on filmmakers and artists as diverse as Noel Coward, Jean Cocteau, Andy Warhol, and Dorothy Arzner and groundbreaking films such as 'Victim' (Press book image below), as well as festival programmes celebrating LGBT+ cinema (see the top image of the 1992 catalogue).

As a museum that offers a people’s history of the cinema and its precursors we are also interested in the LGBT+ people that watched films. Whether it be through fandom for stars like Judy Garland, queer readings of mainstream titles or contemporary films produced for an LGBT+ audience, or the hidden histories that can be found in coded publications from the past, such as ‘Films and Filming, there is much to discover in our collections.

Our galleries are free and usually open every day between 10-5 but check on our home page this month. More information on our website at , where you can also search our catalogue and request a slot in our reading room to consult items in the collection.

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