Clio Logo

San Francisco's GLBT History Museum opened in 2011, becoming the first full-scale, stand-alone museum dedicated to preserving, interpreting, and sharing the history of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in the United States. Recognizing the need to serve patrons beyond the San Francisco area, the museum offers a variety of online displays. For those who live or are visiting the area, the museum also offers a number of permanent and rotating exhibits. The current list of exhibitions appears below, as well as links to the museum's virtual exhibits and related books.


  • The GLBT History Museum opened in 2011 and offers a variety of exhibits and online resources.
  • The museum was damaged by vandals in 2012-for more information click the link to the story by KTVU below
  • David Johnson, The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government-click the link below to learn more about this book.
  • George Chauncey, Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940. Click the link below to learn more about this book.

The museum’s Main Gallery has been remodeled and and is now showing “Queer Past Becomes Present,” the first entirely-new exhibition since the museum opened in 2011. The following information about current exhibits comes from the museum's webpage:

Queer Youth: Out and Active
"Queer Youth" traces the activism of San Francisco Bay Area LGBTQQ youth 25 and under from the 1970s to the present.

The Assassination of Supervisor Harvey Milk
This section looks at one of the most horrific events in queer history, the assassination of activist and San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, and includes related artifacts, photographs and an excerpt from Milk's political will.

José Sarria: Activist and Entertainer
Costumes, artifacts, and ephemera document the life of José Sarria, "The Nightingale of Montgomery Street," from his days waiting tables and performing at the Black Cat Café through his historic run as the first openly gay candidate for public office in the United States. 

Constructing Jiro Onuma: Putting the Pieces Together
"Constructing Jiro Onuma" details how history is a dynamic process involving continuous excavation and discovery through the personal collection of Japanese immigrant Jiro Onuma. His collection offers the only known visual documentation of same-sex intimacy in the Japanese American incarceration camps. 

Fighting for Our Lives: Four Organizations Respond to AIDS
A look at four pioneering Bay Area organizations that fought for a greater response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic: People with AIDS-SF, the ARC/AIDS Vigil, the National Task Force for AIDS Prevention and WORLD (Women Organized in Response to Life-threatening Diseases). 

Gayborhoods: Lost Queer Landscapes
Using unique artifacts and images, this exhibit recaptures the clubs, bars, restaurants, and other venues of three vibrant queer communities - North Beach, the Tenderloin, and the Valencia Street corridor - now all merely memories. 

History is Now: The Dragon Fruit Project
"History is Now" showcases an intergenerational historical preservation project within the queer Asian Pacific Islander community. 

The Lesbians of The Ladder: Courage Under Attack
In 1955 a small group -- many of them women of color - courageously founded the Daughters of Bilitis, a social club for lesbians. The organization's publication, the Ladder, quickly became a lifeline for women across the country struggling to come out in a virulently homophobic society.

About Us. Accessed March 22, 2017. http://www.glbthistory.org/about/.

Kwong, Jessica. SF gay history museum finds home, identity. SF Gate. January 12, 2011. Accessed March 22, 2017. http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/SF-gay-history-museum-finds-home-identity-2478991.php.