In 2005, an informal archive group discussed the quandary of a display of over 300 badges and a quilt made of 14 significant tee shirts, each with a lesbian story. An idea formed, ‘Maybe we should have a museum of lesbian culture.’ After all there is so little herstory available for young people to understand the past.
“If you do not know where you have come from how do you know where you are going”.
“A museum, so what should we call it.”
“ An old fashioned girl’s name”
Many names were raised… Agnes, Agatha, Elizabeth, Maud, Hermione, Elsie, Charlotte…….
“Charlotte? Now that’s a good one. Charlotte Smith organized events at the KG Club and
there was Charlotte Prime also on the committee.”
So Charlotte Museum Trust was formed. With Miriam involved with the ECPAT Trust she got
advice from a lawyer there and a Trust Deed was revised to reflect the lesbian aims of a lesbian museum. Miriam Saphira, Nicola Jackson and Christine Hammerton formed the founding trustees, signed the deed on the 13th of January 2007. The application was sent in to the Charities Commission.
There seemed to be a delay in getting the registration through the Charities Commission. Miriam recalled how the government often used lawyers from overseas, who were not qualified to practice law in Aotearoa.
“Go on, ring them!” So on May 7th 2007 Miriam rang the Charities Office.
“I do not know what the problem is as our trust deed has been rigorously checked by a
lawyer. We are lesbians so we are used to discrimination and some people would have a
personal or religious difficulty with the idea.”
“I will check out where your application is and ring you back,” the young man on the phone
By 3pm that day, the phone rang and… “It has gone through. Congratulations you are now a registered charitable trust.”
Now a decision had to be made about a logo, an image to represent our newly formed trust. We searched for images of lesbians from books, erotic postcards, old
fashioned sports girls and assorted books.
“What about these two women wrestling? They look strong. We could add them onto a
Labrys. I will bring the images and see what you can do, maybe an old fashioned font?” The old fashioned image was from a hundred year old post card said, ‘The Golden Belt: Lady wrestlers perform the equivalent of the ‘bear hug’ and the ‘leg hook’ while draped in foreign flags – perhaps part of a Sapphic Olympiad?’
Vic Segedin put it together and over the years we tried adding additional imagery on a poster but our strong women have remained our central image and strong theme.
At the Surrey Crescent venue (2008-2010), a Charlotte Museum Trust Board meeting decided to advertise in the local Harbour News. Our advertisement was deemed as unsuitable because of the nudity in our logo.
“We are a family newspaper. “
So we put a bra on the women. They still said it was unsuitable so we removed the women
and put a flagstaff, rather phallic looking. Ironic but they accepted that.
We waited for visitors. When we were open we put a billboard with our original logo on up
at the curbside. We had no visitors from the local paper but one counsellor popped in when she saw the billboard to see what we were about.
Since that year we have had various articles about a secret museum, a closet has opened, a live art project and a wide range of events to encourage people to visit us. They will be surprised when they do.