Co-existence and collaboration: Australian AIDS quilts in public museums and community collections

Tuan Nguyen


The Australian AIDS Memorial Quilt is arguably the most recognizable artefact of the AIDS Crisis in Australia. Consisting of over 800 panels, most of the quilt is now divided between a public museum (Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney) and a community organization (AIDS Memorial Candlelight Vigil & Quilt Project, Melbourne). This paper compares the accessibility and meaning of the quilt depending on its location. In doing so, it argues that neither is a ‘better’ custodian for these objects as their differences are also the source of their unique contribution to the care and interpretation of the quilts. The tensions that exist between museums and LGBTIQ communities were exposed when the proper residence of one of the panels was disputed. I use this case to suggest that equitable collaboration can only occur if museums take more cues from communities.


LGBTIQ; queer; collaboration; Australia; AIDS

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Copyright (c) 2018 Vu Tuan Nguyen

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Museum and Society

ISSN 1479-8360

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