Gerber/Hart Library and Archives, 6500 N. Clark St., hosted several relatively informal, socially distanced gatherings the weekend of Sept. 12-13 to let community supporters know about its plans for the next few years.
The various sessionswhich consisted of a tour of both the archives and Gerber/Hart's new exhibit highlighting '90s activism, as well as updates from organization officialswere held instead of the archive's annual fundraising gala that usually occurs each September.
A key goal on the organization's radar is a move to a larger home from its current location in Howard Brown Health's Rogers Park facility, according to Director Wil Brant. Gerber/Hart is running out of room and would like a new space that is about 7,500-10,000 square feet. The expanded space would primarily be for special collections.
An anonymous donor has pledged a $10,000 matching grant for a relocation fund; the fundraising drive for the match lasts through the end of September. The organization "would be in a new home with the next two to four years," said Board President John D'Emilio.
Brant said that other key organizational goals included board development; expanded fundraising, particularly with respect to grants; and new collections development.
"We want our collections to better reflect the community that we serve," he added.
Gerber/Hart was closed to the public for about three months when the COVID-19 shutdown took hold. Brant said that staff used the time to continue digitizing collections. While finances have been a struggle, he added, Gerber/Hart expects it should come close to staying within its budget this year.
"We're operating cautiously and tightening our belts," he said.
Co-curator Veronica Rodriguez also introduced Gerber Hart's new exhibit, "Q: Activism in the Margins," which focuses on the '90s, an era whose memory is often dwarfed in LGBTQ histories by discussions of the '80s AIDS crisis, or the push for marriage equality in the early 21st century.
The exhibit looks at the rise of activist groups such as Queer Nation and the Lesbian Avengers, as well as the evolving depiction of the LGBTQ community in the era's popular culture, among other facets.
A central theme in planning the exhibit was how the use of the word "queer" evolved in the '90s, Rodriquez noted. Long a pejorative term, it changed a great deal in the context of the era's activism, as the LGBTQ community at the time began embracing it "and not apologizing for who we are," she added.