Respect Equality

American LGBTQ+ Museum selects first executive director

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Story at a glance

  • The American LGBTQ+ Museum on Tuesday named its first executive director, Ben Garcia.
  • The announcement comes nearly five years to the day after the museum’s inception.
  • The museum, which will share a space with the New-York Historical Society, plans to open its doors in 2024.

The American LGBTQ+ Museum on Tuesday named its first executive director, nearly five years to the day after the museum’s inception.

The museum on Tuesday tapped Ben Garcia, formerly the deputy executive director and chief learning officer of Ohio History Connection, as its executive director — a role he will officially step into beginning mid-February, according to a news release.

Garcia, a museum veteran with more than 20 years experience and a longtime LGBTQ+ advocate, said in a statement that the opportunity “to lead the American LGBTQ+ Museum into this next phase is a dream realized.”

“This museum will be a space of celebration, connection, activism, and deep meaning. A liminal space where the connection to our ancestors will be strong and queer magic, real,” he said.


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The museum plans to open its doors — at the New-York Historical Society — in 2024. It will be the first museum in New York City dedicated to LGBTQ+ culture and history, The New York Times reported, noting that the city’s Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art focuses exclusively on LGBTQ+ art and artists.

At Ohio History Connection, Garcia oversaw initiatives to repatriate Indigenous ancestors and belongings and bolster environmental and economic sustainability across the organization’s 58 museums and historic sites.

His inaugural task as executive director of the American LGBTQ+ museum will be to develop a robust fundraising strategy to fund operations, exhibitions and educational programs, which will be held both in-person and online, the museum said.

“I’ve spent 20 years working in museums dedicated to ensuring that they are places that work for everybody’s self-discovery, that welcome everybody, that are working with paradigms of inclusion and equity,” Garcia told the Times. 

“And so to work for a museum that we get to create from whole cloth, that from the beginning can have those values and the beauty of the diversity of this community is — I mean, I just can’t believe that I get to do this,” he said.

Garcia, who identifies as Latine, a gender-neutral term, added that much of LGBTQ+ history is told through a white, cisgender lens, which he and the rest of the museum staff seek to challenge.

“We’re so excited to be able to fill the picture out, to make sure that this is a multicultural, multilingual experience of queerness, LGBTQ+ identity,” Garcia said.


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