LA&M celebrates 25 years of leather history
CHICAGO — Nestled amid a residential/business corridor of Rogers Park in Chicago, the Leather Archives & Museum–an arguably unique, off-the-beaten-path museum–is preparing to celebrate its work of preserving leather/fetish/BDSM/kink history this fall, when the museum will host its 25th Anniversary Weekend, September 16th to 18th.
Plans for the museum’s 25th Anniversary Weekend include numerous receptions, educational programming, a walking tour, a banquet dinner, after parties and, of course, tours of the museum itself. Early bird weekend registrations are $160 (through June 7th); $200 thereafter, with VIP packages available for $300. Special discounted packages for $100 are available for those 21-to-29 years of age at the time of the anniversary weekend.
Started in 1991 by Chuck Renslow, the Leather Archives & Museum was originally located at 5007 N. Clark Street. The museum later moved to 6418 N. Greenview Avenue in 1999, where it has operated ever since. LA&M has been repeatedly named to popular offbeat tourist destination lists (Chicagoist,RoadTrippers, WBEZ-FM NPR and more), and it acts as a community hub for adult programming throughout the year, welcoming locals and tourists alike.
“I never thought when Tony DeBlase and I started the LA&M, it would have such great community support,” says Renslow, who is the current President of the museum’s Board of Directors. “Before the Leather Archives & Museum, most of our history was going into dumpsters. Now our history is being saved worldwide.”
LA&M Executive Director Rick Storer agrees, adding, “Celebrating 25 Years of leather history is really a testament to the leather/BDSM/kink/fetish community’s passion for their history. They recognize the importance of keeping their legacy safe and want to make sure it’s available to the world.”
The Leather Archives & Museum houses artifacts, art, clothing, research materials and historical exhibits devoted to leather/BDSM/kink/fetish communities across a wide spectrum. A non-lending library is on-site, offering non-fiction, fiction, pulp fiction, art books, comic books/graphic novels and more. LA&M’s facility also includes a 164-seat auditorium which is used for public/private events and educational/entertainment programs. As part of the museum’s outreach and programming, LA&M hosts events ranging from scholarly lectures to kinky/foreign film festivals, and the museum offers the auditorium to local community groups for use throughout the year.
“The LA&M is a grassroots institution,” says Storer. “2016 signifies 25 years of people coming together behind a cause. The Leather Archives celebrates this year because thousands of people have said, ‘My history and my legacy is important to me’…and then did something about it.”
Working to preserve that legacy is Jakob VanLammeren, LA&M’s Archivist/Collections Librarian. VanLammeren says, “Celebrating 25 years of leather history at the LA&M means community members, museum visitors, researchers, and scholars alike can experience the primary source materials that document how leather communities have radicalized sexuality throughout history.” The museum’s archived materials–not normally on public display–are made available, by appointment, to researchers and scholars visiting the LA&M.
Above all, the Leather Archives & Museum provides a unique, safe space in which visitors can learn about the history and societal context of Leather/kink/BDSM/fetish communities. That the LA&M provides such a space for the community is important, says Board of Directors Vice President and volunteer Christina Court. “Its archives, library, museum and traveling exhibits serve as a reminder that we have not only existed for quite some time, but that we continue to thrive, evolve, and celebrate with pride who we are as individuals and sexual beings.”
For more information on the Leather Archives & Museum’s 25th Anniversary Weekend schedule and for registration, please visit www.leatherarchives.org/anniversary/.
Via press release