Old Melbourne Gaol exhibition showcases how far Melbourne has come

By Katie Johnson

To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Victoria, Old Melbourne Gaol has opened its new exhibition: Bending the Bars.

Curated by Andrew Gaynor and the National Trust of Victoria, the exhibition shares the stories and processes that led to the passing of a historic law reform, through the words and experiences of key participants.

National Trust of Australia CEO Simon Ambrose said the exhibition acted as both the venue and object for the exhibition.

“As a place of detention for those charged within Melbourne’s CBD under discriminatory laws based on sexuality, the City Watch House as the location for the Bending the Bars exhibition is an important reminder of the darker episodes in the ongoing struggle for equality,” Mr Ambrose said.

“We hope the exhibition allows visitors to engage and commemorate the passing of a historic law reform, through a powerful collection of stories and experiences.”

The exhibition uses an engaging combination of text, images, and original artworks to share the stories of the key participants who fought hard to achieve legislative change in 1980.

It also features information about the inhumane punishment members of the LGBTIQ+ community faced and allows visitors to enter the cells that many were kept in.

In keeping with COVID restrictions, visitors will have timed entry and online booking is advised.

The exhibition is open now at the City Watch House at Melbourne Gaol until May 17 and is listed as part of the 2021 Midsumma Festival •

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