NEWS  ⁄  ARTS & CULTURE

Rainbow Trail LGBTQIA+ exhibition queers RAMM for Exeter Pride 2019

A new collaboration between X-Plore Youth Devon, Exeter College LGBTQ+ society, Natalie McGrath of Dreadnought SW and Dr Jana Funke of the University of Exeter explores gender and sexual diversity across time, place and culture by reimagining objects from the RAMM collections.

Ramm  Lgbtqia+  Exeter pride 

Exeter RAMM launched an exhibition to celebrate LGBTQIA+ history on the eve of Exeter Pride last night at the second of its after-hours Lates events.

The Rainbow Trail is the result of five months collaborative work between X-Plore Youth Devon, Exeter College LGBTQ+ society, Natalie McGrath of Dreadnought South West and Dr Jana Funke of the University of Exeter.

The trail is the first of its kind for the museum. It invites visitors to consider what it might mean to have the museum as queer space, to queer the museum itself, by thinking about gender and sexual diversity now, in the past and across the globe.

Rainbow Trail LGBTQIA+ exhibition queers RAMM for Exeter Pride 2019 Queering RAMM for Exeter Pride 2019. Remixed image via Wikimedia Commons.

The collaboration began when RAMM approached Natalie McGrath to look at how the museum could become a space where LGBTQIA+ people might see their experiences and histories reflected, and how the museum might open up its collections to reveal reimagined stories.

Natalie McGrath and Jana Funke then set out to explore the museum through the eyes of young people who identify as LGBTQIA+ from Exeter College and X-Plore Youth Devon, a local charity that runs LGBTQ youth support groups.

Jana Funke said: “We had a conversation with them about what would it even mean to have the museum as a queer space. Does it mean we have to have objects that somehow depict queer people? Or that are made by queer artists? What is a queer object?”

Insight came from the group: “One of the young people was brilliant: they said we don’t need an object that is grounded in LGBT history, we need stories around the object that show how it may resonate.”

Natalie McGrath added: “It became a really playful, open, creative and very queer way to think about how any object can be queer if we frame it in a certain way.”

Georgian silk gown Not just a Georgian dress. Photo: Vanessa Miles.

A very open brief emerged. Jana Funke said: “We asked the young people which historical figures do you know? Who are your queer icons? What is missing in history? What do you wish you had learned in school?”

Their answers led them to a silk gown. “We were inspired by a television show called Pose, about the drag scene in 80’s New York. In the show there’s a group of queer, trans, gender diverse people who steal all these regal, royal costumes and objects from the museum in New York and do a big drag show.”

“We realised if they were to break in to the RAMM this would be one of the objects they might steal. It’s linked to black queer culture, latinx queer culture, which otherwise might not be represented in that particular gallery.

“This way we can queer the museum but can also have an intersectional approach, so it’s not just white, British, colonial history but other stories as well. It’s a very playful interpretation.”

Natalie McGrath added: “If we think about something like feminism from an intersectional point of view, there isn’t just one feminist story and there isn’t just one story that a museum can tell.

“There are so many, multiple stories within the collections themselves. Individual objects themselves present multiple stories.”

Butterflies at RAMM Butterflies on the Rainbow Trail at RAMM. Photo: Vanessa Miles.

The exhibition represents nothing less than a reinvention of the objects themselves, which are finding a new identity by being seen this way.

Jana Funke said: “The idea of looking at RAMM as a space that is coming out of a colonial, patriarchal, history then saying let’s come in and queer it and look at it from a different perspective is pretty powerful. And the museum were brilliant at letting us do what we wanted.

“They didn’t try to tell us you have to do this, or you have to work in a particular way. It was more like, we want to work with you and see what ideas you have to open up the space.”

Natalie McGrath said: “And we learned a lot from the young people. They were really engaged and were very articulate, intelligent and hungry to know more.”

Jana Funke added: “I was really impressed. There were things I teach that I have to explain to my first year students at the university but the young people just got it, they knew it anyway. Some of them have even started their own LGBTQ classroom initiatives.”

“This is just the beginning. RAMM are really onboard: we see this as the launch of something we can develop, hopefully bringing more voices to the museum. In the autumn we are going to start giving tours, walking round the museum with people and talking about the objects.

“And we also want to capture other voices, more young people, but also older people and people of colour who come from different ethnic backgrounds, to find other ways we can queer the museum.”


The Rainbow Trail is now open at RAMM. A printed guide is available in the museum reception and on the RAMM website.


 is editor of Exeter Observer and a director of its publisher Exeter Observer Limited.

 contributed photos to this article.

Recent stories
University of Exeter full-time academic staff salary distribution 2020-21

University of Exeter lags behind on female pay and employment terms

Student houses in multiple occupation to let in Raleigh Road, Exeter

Information Commissioner to investigate university over student accommodation numbers refusal

Exeter ticket zone map

Stagecoach escapes major sanctions over service failures

University of Exeter Streatham campus picket line

University of Exeter staff strike in largest walkout in sector history

Devon County Council 2022-24 capital transport programme allocations

Motor vehicle infrastructure continues to dominate Devon transport spending

More News
Student houses in multiple occupation to let in Raleigh Road, Exeter

PLANNING & PLACE

Information Commissioner to investigate university over student accommodation numbers refusal

Compliance failure follows university admission that nearly 39,000 students based at Exeter campuses in 2021-22, suggesting around three quarters of city's private rented housing stock occupied by students.

University of Exeter Streatham campus picket line

COMMUNITY & SOCIETY

University of Exeter staff strike in largest walkout in sector history

Dispute over pay, pensions and working conditions continues as universities generate record income.

Reclaim the Night protest in Bedford Street

COMMUNITY & SOCIETY

Reclaim the Night protest against sexual violence and harassment of women and girls in public space

Exeter event takes place after survey finding that 85% felt unsafe or very unsafe when walking alone in city centre at night, with police figures showing violent and sexual offences exceed 35% of all recorded crime in city.

All News
Analysis
University of Exeter full-time academic staff salary distribution 2020-21

COMMUNITY & SOCIETY

University of Exeter lags behind on female pay and employment terms

HESA figures show poor performance compared with Universities UK members and only incremental changes over past five years, mostly since staff began industrial action over pay, pensions and working conditions.

Exeter ticket zone map

TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

Stagecoach escapes major sanctions over service failures

Traffic commissioner decides four days of free weekend travel in Exeter Plus ticket zone is sufficient penalty for poor performance despite public inquiry hearing severe criticism of company.

Devon County Council 2022-24 capital transport programme allocations

TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

Motor vehicle infrastructure continues to dominate Devon transport spending

New active travel infrastructure to receive just 5% share of capital allocations this year and next, with new roads capital expenditure to increase from 74% to 86%.

All Analysis
Comment
Exeter City Council outline draft local plan site allocations crop

PLANNING & PLACE

Will council seek investment zone status for Liveable Exeter sites?

Government growth plans combine tax breaks with planning deregulation, putting affordable housing provision and environmental protections at risk with little evidence that promised investment zone benefits would result.

Extinction Rebellion UK tour bus outside Exeter City Council's Paris Street offices

CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

World car free day ignored in Exeter as Extinction Rebellion challenges council climate inaction

Protestors gathered outside council offices as CEO Karime Hassan posed for photo with construction company development manager at Princesshay promotion.

Exeter City Futures Exeter Development Fund presentation slide

PLANNING & PLACE

Exeter Development Fund: rent extraction, unaffordable housing and gentrification, but not net zero

Exeter City Futures' private debt-driven Liveable Exeter property development financing scheme is under fire from councillors who say it is based on insufficiently-evidenced assumptions and won't meet Exeter's housing needs.

All Comment
On our radar
On our agenda
New Exeter Local Plan

New Exeter local plan

A consultation on the outline draft version of the new Exeter local plan, which will guide development in the city until 2040, is now taking place.

At the same time changes to the national planning system that are on their way could require significant revision to the new plan before it is submitted to the inspectorate.

All topics

ACCOUNTABILITY & TRANSPARENCY ACCOUNTABILITY & TRANSPARENCY ACCOUNTABILITY & TRANSPARENCY   AIR QUALITY AIR QUALITY AIR QUALITY   COP26 COP26 COP26   COVID-19 COVID-19 COVID-19   CITYPOINT CITYPOINT CITYPOINT   CLIFTON HILL SPORTS CENTRE CLIFTON HILL SPORTS CENTRE CLIFTON HILL SPORTS CENTRE   CLIMATE CRISIS CLIMATE CRISIS CLIMATE CRISIS   CO-LIVING CO-LIVING CO-LIVING   CONGESTION CONGESTION CONGESTION   COUNCIL TAX COUNCIL TAX COUNCIL TAX   CROWN ESTATE CROWN ESTATE CROWN ESTATE   CYCLING & WALKING CYCLING & WALKING CYCLING & WALKING   DEMOCRATIC DEFICIT DEMOCRATIC DEFICIT DEMOCRATIC DEFICIT   DEVON CARBON PLAN DEVON CARBON PLAN DEVON CARBON PLAN   DEVON COUNTY COUNCIL DEVON COUNTY COUNCIL DEVON COUNTY COUNCIL   DEVON PENSION FUND DEVON PENSION FUND DEVON PENSION FUND   EAST DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL EAST DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL EAST DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL   EXETER AIRPORT EXETER AIRPORT EXETER AIRPORT   EXETER CATHEDRAL EXETER CATHEDRAL EXETER CATHEDRAL   EXETER CITY COUNCIL EXETER CITY COUNCIL EXETER CITY COUNCIL   EXETER CITY FUTURES EXETER CITY FUTURES EXETER CITY FUTURES   EXETER CITY LIVING EXETER CITY LIVING EXETER CITY LIVING   EXETER COLLEGE EXETER COLLEGE EXETER COLLEGE   EXETER CULTURE EXETER CULTURE EXETER CULTURE   EXETER DEVELOPMENT FUND EXETER DEVELOPMENT FUND EXETER DEVELOPMENT FUND   EXETER EXTINCTION REBELLION EXETER EXTINCTION REBELLION EXETER EXTINCTION REBELLION   EXETER LIVE BETTER EXETER LIVE BETTER EXETER LIVE BETTER   EXETER LOCAL PLAN EXETER LOCAL PLAN EXETER LOCAL PLAN   EXETER PHOENIX EXETER PHOENIX EXETER PHOENIX   EXETER PRIDE EXETER PRIDE EXETER PRIDE   EXETER SCIENCE PARK EXETER SCIENCE PARK EXETER SCIENCE PARK   EXETER ST DAVID'S EXETER ST DAVID'S EXETER ST DAVID'S   EXETER TRANSPORT STRATEGY EXETER TRANSPORT STRATEGY EXETER TRANSPORT STRATEGY   EXETER CITY CENTRE EXETER CITY CENTRE EXETER CITY CENTRE   FREEDOM OF INFORMATION FREEDOM OF INFORMATION FREEDOM OF INFORMATION   FRIDAYS FOR FUTURE EXETER FRIDAYS FOR FUTURE EXETER FRIDAYS FOR FUTURE EXETER   GENERAL ELECTIONS GENERAL ELECTIONS GENERAL ELECTIONS   GUILDHALL GUILDHALL GUILDHALL   HARLEQUINS HARLEQUINS HARLEQUINS   HEART OF THE SOUTH WEST LEP HEART OF THE SOUTH WEST LEP HEART OF THE SOUTH WEST LEP   HOUSING CRISIS HOUSING CRISIS HOUSING CRISIS   LGBTQIA+ LGBTQIA+ LGBTQIA+   LIVEABLE EXETER PLACE BOARD LIVEABLE EXETER PLACE BOARD LIVEABLE EXETER PLACE BOARD   LIVEABLE EXETER LIVEABLE EXETER LIVEABLE EXETER   LOCAL INDUSTRIAL STRATEGY LOCAL INDUSTRIAL STRATEGY LOCAL INDUSTRIAL STRATEGY   LOCAL ELECTIONS LOCAL ELECTIONS LOCAL ELECTIONS   MAKETANK MAKETANK MAKETANK   MARSH BARTON MARSH BARTON MARSH BARTON   MET OFFICE MET OFFICE MET OFFICE   MID DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL MID DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL MID DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL   NET ZERO EXETER NET ZERO EXETER NET ZERO EXETER   NORTHERNHAY GARDENS NORTHERNHAY GARDENS NORTHERNHAY GARDENS   OXYGEN HOUSE OXYGEN HOUSE OXYGEN HOUSE   PARIS STREET PARIS STREET PARIS STREET   PARKING PARKING PARKING   PENINSULA TRANSPORT PENINSULA TRANSPORT PENINSULA TRANSPORT   PLANNING POLICY PLANNING POLICY PLANNING POLICY   PRINCESSHAY PRINCESSHAY PRINCESSHAY   PROPERTY DEVELOPMENT PROPERTY DEVELOPMENT PROPERTY DEVELOPMENT   PUBLIC CONSULTATION PUBLIC CONSULTATION PUBLIC CONSULTATION   PUBLIC HEALTH PUBLIC HEALTH PUBLIC HEALTH   PUBLIC REALM PUBLIC REALM PUBLIC REALM   PUBLIC TRANSPORT PUBLIC TRANSPORT PUBLIC TRANSPORT   RAMM RAMM RAMM   REFUSE & RECYCLING REFUSE & RECYCLING REFUSE & RECYCLING   RETROFIT RETROFIT RETROFIT   RIVERSIDE VALLEY PARK RIVERSIDE VALLEY PARK RIVERSIDE VALLEY PARK   ROYAL DEVON & EXETER NHS TRUST ROYAL DEVON & EXETER NHS TRUST ROYAL DEVON & EXETER NHS TRUST   SIDWELL STREET SIDWELL STREET SIDWELL STREET   SOUTH WEST EXETER EXTENSION SOUTH WEST EXETER EXTENSION SOUTH WEST EXETER EXTENSION   SOUTH WEST WATER SOUTH WEST WATER SOUTH WEST WATER   SOUTHERNHAY SOUTHERNHAY SOUTHERNHAY   SPORT ENGLAND LOCAL DELIVERY PILOT SPORT ENGLAND LOCAL DELIVERY PILOT SPORT ENGLAND LOCAL DELIVERY PILOT   ST SIDWELL'S COMMUNITY CENTRE ST SIDWELL'S COMMUNITY CENTRE ST SIDWELL'S COMMUNITY CENTRE   ST SIDWELL'S POINT ST SIDWELL'S POINT ST SIDWELL'S POINT   STAGECOACH SOUTH WEST STAGECOACH SOUTH WEST STAGECOACH SOUTH WEST   STUDENT ACCOMMODATION STUDENT ACCOMMODATION STUDENT ACCOMMODATION   TEIGNBRIDGE DISTRICT COUNCIL TEIGNBRIDGE DISTRICT COUNCIL TEIGNBRIDGE DISTRICT COUNCIL   UNIVERSITY OF EXETER UNIVERSITY OF EXETER UNIVERSITY OF EXETER  

More stories