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The Western Australian Museum’s latest addition is creating an unholy controversy

We live in a world where toilets and cans of soup are among the most prized pieces of art in the world, but WA Museum’s latest acquisition is very questionable. 

And I’m not exaggerating. The museum recently acquired a “glory hole” used by gay men in Perth for secretive sex during the period when homosexuality in WA was illegal.

The ‘piece’ is a train station door with a hole cut into it. For those who aren’t aware what goes through the hole, or the technique behind a glory hole, I’ll encourage you to do your own Google search.

Chief Executive of the WA Museum, Alec Coles, told Perth Now that it is an appropriate piece to acquire because it is the responsibility of public museum’s to represent society.

“Clearly the LGBTQI community is a very important part of Perth’s society,” he said. “We often talk about museums as safe places for unsafe ideas.”

While the door has been accepted into the Museum’s collection, it’s at the discretion of the curatorial team when and if it will be displayed.

The door was donated by Neil Buckley, a proud gay man and Perth local, who saved it from demolition way back in 1998. You can believe him when he says it’s an important artefact – he obviously thinks so, having held onto it for 20 years.

“It’s really an important part of social history and this is how we used to have sex at a time when it [homosexual sex] was illegal,” he said.

“Because it was illegal we had to go to a beat that was off the main drag and that was the only place many men could meet other gay men because it was still illegal in clubs.”

It’s crazy to think that private homosexual acts were only decriminalised in WA as recently as 1990, and it wasn’t until this year that a law was passed allowing people to expunge past convictions for homosexuality.

Opinions vary on whether the door is appropriate to display in the museum as a piece of art. Shadow Culture and Arts Minister Tony Krsticevic isn’t a fan.

““While it is appropriate for the WA Museum to chronicle the rich and proud LGBTI community as a significant element in the State’s history, such an object is too tacky for display at what will be such a great new venue.”

Personally, I agree that as a nation we need to document and display troubled moments of our past, but doing so through such a lewd display isn’t the answer.

Is it really beneficial for a group of schoolchildren – who constantly attend museums on school excursions – to see a door through which men used to have clandestine sex? I think not.

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