PRECIOUS artefacts and documents crucial to Sydney’s LGBTI history could be preserved following a commitment from Sydney Council to open discussions on a dedicated archive space.

As revealed in the Star Observer yesterday, Cr Linda Scott introduced a motion calling on the council to support the creation of an archive space as a precursor to a permanent LGBTI museum.

“The involvement of council in the creation of this archive will ensure historic documents, photos, and oral histories associated with the first Mardi Gras parades and the campaigns for equality… are preserved,” Scott said.

“Given the passing this week of [LGBTI rights activist] Lex Watson, and the potential loss of historical documents as significant figures in the movement pass away, it is more important than ever before that Council takes a leadership role to support the development of a museum archive, preserving the stories and history of Sydney’s [LGBTI] community.”

Scott had pushed for council to provide the necessary space noting that while institutions such as the State Library of NSW do accept historical items, “any exhibition of these items is at the discretion of the curator and the items remain the property of each institution in perpetuity.”

However, council last night passed an amended motion, introduced by Cr Jenny Green, that explicitly calls for discussion to begin with the State Library, Powerhouse Museum and the Australian Gay and Lesbian Archives – based in Melbourne – about how they could be involved in any archiving effort.

Speaking to the Star Observer, Green said: “The Powerhouse and Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives already house materials and costumes from the gay community, these materials are expertly collected, curated and exhibited.

“There are many requests from other community organisations for the city to house historical material, the city is not  set up to do this nor is it part of the city’s remit,” said Green.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said while it was important to preserve materials that record the history of the city’s communities, “this is best done by institutions set up for [these] purposes and the resources to carry out this important work.

The office of the Lord Mayor said council only stored a limited amount of historical materials, all of which related to the history of Sydney Town Hall.

Discussions with any external institutions will include questions about their acquiring policies.

While she backed an archive, Cr Christine Forster said the Lord Mayor was still “trenchantly” opposed to a permanent museum.

“[Council] continued to cite the cost of archiving or exhibiting [LGBTI] historical and cultural items as an excuse for not doing so,” she said.

“The city makes this claim despite the fact that the Lord Mayor refuses to conduct a proper investigation of what that cost might be.”

In March, a coalition of independents, including Lord Mayor Clover Moore, voted down a proposal from Liberal’s Forster and Labor’s Scott to look at the business case for creating a permanent LGBTI museum.

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