The Leslie/Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art (LLM) is an art museum in the SoHo district of New York City that collects, preserves and exhibits visual arts created by LGBT artists or art about LGBT themes, issues, and people.
It has a gallery for temporary exhibitions and includes a sizable permanent collection of art numbering over 3,000 items, including, painting, drawing, photography, prints and sculpture. It has been recognized as one of the oldest arts groups engaged in the collection and preservation of gay art.
In April 2012, it was accredited as an officially recognised museum by the State of New York and the name was changed to its current name from the Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation.
The permanent collection contains the works of a number of well-known artists such as Andy Warhol, Delmas Howe, Jean Cocteau, Deni Ponty, Robert Mapplethorpe, George Platt Lynes, Horst and Arthur Tress.
Along with the Kinsey Institute, the One National Gay & Lesbian Archives, Lesbians in the Visual Arts, and the Archives of Gay and Lesbian Artists at Oberlin College, the Leslie/Lohman Museum is considered one of the most important archives of LGBT visual arts in the United States.
The museum was created to provide an outlet for art that is unambiguously gay and frequently denied access to mainstream venues. The foundation’s gallery mounts regularly scheduled exhibitions of art in all media by gay and lesbian artists with an emphasis on subject matter that speaks directly to gay and lesbian sensibilities, including erotic, political, romantic, and social imagery. The organization also provides support for emerging and under-represented artists. Other programs include artists’ and curators‘ talks, panel discussions, a quarterly journal, an archive of artist data, and a permanent collection of art.
The LLGAF also publishes The Archive made available to its membership that includes information on the Leslie Lohman collection, new acquisitions, events, samples of gay and sometimes erotic art and articles on artists and exhibition. The Archive is the predecessor to another publication, The Art of Man from Firehouse Studio publications.
The Leslie Lohman Museum was founded by J. Frederic “Fritz” Lohman, ASID and Charles W. Leslie. The two men had been collecting art for several years, and mounted their first exhibition of gay art in their loft on Prince Street in New York City in 1969. They opened a commercial art gallery shortly thereafter, but this venue closed in the early 1980s at the advent of the AIDS pandemic.
In 1989, the two men applied for nonprofit status as a precursor to establishing a foundation to preserve their collection of gay art and continue exhibition efforts. The Internal Revenue Service objected to the word “gay” in the title of the foundation, and held up the nonprofit application for nearly a decade. The foundation was finally granted nonprofit status in 1990.
The Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation first location was in a basement at 127B Prince Street in New York City.
In 2006, the collection moved into a much larger ground floor gallery at 26 Wooster Street in SoHo. The Foundation retains its original home for storage and archive purposes.
Governance and finances
The Leslie/Lohman Museum is by a board of directors. An advisory committee provides expertise and advice. The foundation employs a small full-time staff, although it also relies on the assistance of volunteers to implement its programs.
LLM is financed by contributions from private donors as well as a membership program. The foundation expands its collection primarily by donations from artists and collectors.
The foundation hosts five exhibitions of new works each year, although work from the permanent collection is also frequently exhibited. The foundation’s 2004 exhibition of the works of painter Patrick Angus drew critical praise.
The foundation was also the first to exhibit the gay erotica of renowned commercial illustrator Bob Ziering. Although Ziering had provided illustrations for Simon and Schuster, The Walt Disney Company, and the New York City Opera (his 40-by-40-foot banner for the Opera’s 1986 production of Don Quichotte at Lincoln Center caused a sensation), his erotic work remained unknown until Leslie/Lohman hosted the first public exhibition of his paintings and drawings in 2004.