Students Miss Travelling LGBTQ Display in Archives

Lianna Brown '22, Associate News Editor

Students in the LGBTQ community have expressed concerns over an LGBTQ exhibit being removed in the Dickinson College Archives, but Special Collections Librarian Malinda Triller-Doran says that the removal is part of a rotation system.

The display, History Comes Out, was up from Aug. 2018 until the end of Jan. 2019 and contained a collection of pieces reflecting LGBTQ life in central Pennsylvania including photographs, shirts and pride flags displayed in cases and on walls. This exhibit is displayed regularly each year.

“I don’t understand why they are doing that [taking the exhibit down],” said Mason McIntyre ’22, one of the students who voiced concern “it doesn’t make sense to me why they would change something that the school claims to find important to them.”

“The reason we rotate the exhibit is because light damages historical documents so it will fade… so it is not good for us to leave any exhibit up for very long,” Triller-Doran, who is also the archivist for the LGBTQ project, said. “I know that was a very popular exhibit, but if we leave it out too long, things will start to get damaged from the light, also we like to highlight different parts of our collection, so we want to be able to share other things that we have.”

The display is curated by the Dickinson College Archives and displayed in the library, as part of a partnership the college has with the LGBT Center of Central PA. “We worked together to develop the archives that are stored here and used for the exhibit and we do an open house and reception in October for LGBT History Month, so we do the exhibit as part of that,” said Triller-Doran.

“I like the LGBT section a lot, I think it’s a really cool exhibit so if they are taking it out, I get that they need to switch up the exhibits, but I really hope they save it and redisplay it,” Cammie Charron ’22 said.

The archives from the LGBT exhibit are lent out to state museums and to other universities when it is not on display at the college, where the materials are used as resources for education. “Unfortunately, the exhibits in the library aren’t permanent because of the preservation and access reasons. But next fall, there will be another LGBTQ exhibit,” Triller-Doran said. 

Shasita Paudel ’22, is not as upset about the exhibit’s removal because “it’s a traveling exhibit, so it makes sense for it to ‘travel’ to other places where other people can see it.” 

The cases in the basement of the library now display yearbooks, photographs and other pieces from the Microcosm, Dickinson’s yearbook. Other pieces from the archives are displayed in other sections of the Waidner-Spahr Library; including the hallway outside the archives and in and above the Biblio.

“We try to rotate out what’s on display and often times, our student workers are usually the ones that curate the exhibits, so when that’s the case, we let the students explore what we have and pick out something that interests them or something they think people on campus might not know we have and then put together an exhibit based on that,” Triller-Doran said.

The Microcosm exhibit will most likely stay in the basement of the library through the summer, unless the archives decide to replace it with an exhibit focusing on alumni weekend, which is at the beginning of June. “For [a]lumni weekend, we often put out scrapbooks or other student life type things for the alumni to see… but a lot of work went into this exhibit, so we would like to leave it up as long as we can so as many people can see it as possible,” Triller-Doran said. 

Triller-Doran is passionate about the LGBTQ exhibit and having students come to explore the past of the school. “We welcome students to visit [the archives] and explore things on their own… the exhibits are just a way of highlighting the many different kinds of things we have to make people more aware of what we have,” she said.