Ben Garcia becomes the new executive director of the American LGBTQ+ museum

Photo courtesy of BELatina.

After years of obstacles to opening new cultural and exhibition spaces that reflect the true diversity of American society, such as the Museum of the Latin American, things seem to be changing. From now on, the LGBTQ+ community will also have its Museum.

According to A press release of the board, the American LGBTQ+ Museum named Ben Garcia executive director of a project that will see the light of day in 2024.

“Bringing over 20 years of experience in LGBTQ+ intersectional leadership, development and advocacy, Ben will lead the Museum’s exhibition and program development, advocacy efforts, communications and community outreach, as well as fundraising,” said the announcement bed. “He is responsible for bringing the American LGBTQ+ Museum into its next stage of growth as we work to open our physical home at the New-York Historical Society in 2024.”

Previously, Ben Garcia served as Deputy Executive Director and Director of Learning at The Ohio History Connection. In this role, he oversaw initiatives to shed light on Ohio’s untold stories, repatriate Indian ancestors and assets, and increase the environmental and economic sustainability of its 58 museums and historic sites. His prior museum experience includes leadership roles in the education departments of the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Skirball Cultural Center, and administrative roles at the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology and the Museum of Us. Ben also serves on the board of Directors of Equality Ohio and the Midwest Association of Museums.

“Leading the American LGBTQ+ Museum into this next phase is a dream come true,” García said. “Together, we will tell the stories of the queer people of this country from its Indigenous beginnings until today; thousands of stories that have never been told before in museums. Stories brought to life through the work of LGBTQ+ creatives and scholars. This museum will be a space for celebration, connection, activism and deep meaning. A liminal space where the connection with our ancestors will be a strong and queer magic, real.

The New York Times reported that the American LGBTQ+ Museum, which will share space with the New York Historical Society, will be the first museum dedicated to LGBTQ+ history and culture in the city. (The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, in SoHo, focuses on art and artists). As such, it will seek to strike a careful balance between New York’s queer and national history.

“After five years of work to get here, following our first inauguration with the New-York Historical Society last fall, the Board of Trustees is thrilled to welcome Ben Garcia as its first Executive Director,” said Richard Burns, president of the American LGBTQ+ Museum. Board of Trustees and Acting Executive Director of the Johnson Family Foundation. “Ben brings the experience, knowledge and vision we need to lead our museum to its opening in 2024 and beyond. We are all excited to start working closely with him in February!”

Garcia’s addition to the American LGBTQ+ museum team is also part of an effort to decentralize the narrative around queer identity. As the new executive director told the Time“many of the first cultural touchstones around queer identity […] represented a white and cisgender perspective.

“While they are crucial in opening people’s hearts and minds,” he said, “they have also formed a very incomplete picture.”

James C. Tibbs