Embedding Diversity in our Collections

Public art collections have historically been presented in a certain way – white-washed by a straight, ableist, middle-class, male gaze. Their presentation has been a product of bias across generations of collectors, donors, curators and directors. People were marginalised; their stories were suppressed and hidden in plain sight. This has led to public collections seemingly not representing all facets of contemporary society.

In order to address this issue, and better reflect the people of Walsall today, over the next three years a commitment has been made to ensure more diverse narratives are embedded into our Collections displays. The project started in 2022 looking at queer representation in the Garman Ryan Collection and Permanent Collection displays, and will go on to explore Class, Identity, Race and Disability over the coming years.


Supported by independent consultant Jon Sleigh, we reached out and had conversations with wider museum sector colleagues, Walsall Council, Walsall College, LGBT Society & Wolverhampton-based LGBT+ Sparkle, presenting opportunities to connect with queer stories in our Collections.

A dedicated panel was formed to explore and draw out new perspectives on works in our Permanent Collection. The group found they naturally connected with many works across areas such as gender, class and diversity.

HERE&QUEER exhibition

4 June 2022 – 28 May 2023

An exhibition of works from our Collections that members of the LGBTQ+ Community panel particularly connected to, offering re-interpretations of works through a queer eye.

Here&Queer aims to show there is no definitive queer experience, just as there is no definitive straight experience. We are all complex and multi-faceted beings. We hope this exhibition gives the opportunity for people to gain new insights into works in our Collections and help visitors connect with works on a personal level.

Explore the Here&Queer Collection Trail and Exhibition Guide here.

If you are interested in exploring areas around class, disability or race within our Collections please contact: Julie Brown, Collections Curator –  julie.brown@walsall.gov.uk