Dissident Sex in the Museum
Chapter three transitions to temporary and explicit displays of queer sexuality in museums, specifically examining how the emotional habitus on sexual display is managed through unofficial museum policy in the late twentieth century. This period, sometimes referred to as the “culture wars,” marks a pivotal moment in the institutionalization of certain sexual display policies such as warning signs that continue to influence the ways in which sexual material culture is consumed in museums. The final section of the chapter juxtaposes the politics and performances of display in temporary sex exhibitions in mainstream museums to the controversy surrounding the display of sex toys at the GLBT History Museum in San Francisco. This section examines what happens to queer sex when it is displayed in a museum dedicated to representing queer lives and what this means for the application of queer theory in museum practice. The chapter ends by examining theoretical ruminations on the supposed death of queer theory and argues that now is not the time to abandon queer theory, and that now more than ever, theorists and museum practitioners need queer praxis.
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