A signature event for the 40th anniversary Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras celebrations, the Museum of Love & Protest launches on Friday 16 February at the National Art School, Darlinghurst.

Free to enter and running daily until the end of the Festival (Sunday 4 March), the Museum of Love & Protest looks back across four amazing decades and presents a stunning exhibition of costumes, photographs, iconic posters, storytelling and rarely-seen film and video footage.

“This is a must-see exhibition with incredible Mardi Gras magic on show,” says Mardi Gras CEO Terese Casu. “Visitors to the Museum of Love & Protest will experience 40 years of astonishing, creativity, storytelling, artefacts, photographs and video from amazing LGBTQI Australian artists. Many costumes seen fleetingly on the Parade route and in Mardi Gras festivals of yesteryear have been lovingly restored and beautifully presented so you can see up close the hard work which goes into each item.”

Curated by Susan Charlton, the Museum’s theatrical design by Anna Tregloan combines visual spectacle and moments of intimacy for visitors to discover the extraordinary stories, artists, communities and images of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Participating photographers include William Yang, C.Moore Hardy, Mazz Image, Ann-Marie Calilhanna and Markham Lane. 1978 photographs include images by Sally Colechin, Geoff Friend and Branco Gaica. Commissioned Artists include Deborah Kelly, Gareth Ernst, Rene Rivas and Lewis Oswald. Plus original artworks by David McDiarmid.

Costumes by Brenton Heath-Kerr, Ron Muncaster and Pip Playford all feature in the exhibition, on loan from the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, as well as costumes worn by Miss Ellaneous, Pauline Pantsdown, Bob Downe, Vanessa Wagner, Joyce Maynge, Peta Friend, AJ Brown, Ted Cook, Pisa Tufuga, and wigs by Maude Boate.

Above: Ron Muncaster’s ‘Cotton Blossom’ Parade costume

Creative Director Greg Clarke said “As a special treat, on Friday and Saturday evenings at 6pm the Museum of Love and Protest really comes alive for the In Conversation series as special guests entertain you with their unique spin on Mardi Gras history.”

Former Gras Festival Directors Gillian Minervini and Jonathon Parsons will be in conversation on Friday 16 Feb; Tobin Saunders (aka Vanessa Wagner) and Simon Hunt (aka Pauline Pantsdown) on Sat 17 Feb; DJ legend Stephen Allkins and Sandy from the Oxford on Fri 2 March; and 78ers Su Goldfish and Alissar Chidiac on Fri 23 Feb.

On Sat 24 don’t miss the Mardi Gras Archive Roadshow, featuring photographer Helen Grace, who has just unearthed some never-before-seen 1978 images and Jane Becker who has a collection of Party and Parade design drawings, and where the audience is invited to bring along a Mardi Gras artefact to share.

The Museum also invites you to contribute your own memories of Mardi Gras across time, through a Community Memory Project with costume-maker extraordinaire Rene Rivas in the Pink Butterfly Lounge. Help create a unique butterfly dress that will be worn in the Parade, by Rene as part of the Evolutionary Dinner Party float.


Museum of Love & Protest

NAS Gallery

National Art School, cnr Forbes & Burton streets, Darlinghurst

Friday 16 February – Sunday 4 March 2018

Sunday – Thursday 11am – 5pm

Friday & Saturday 11am – 10pm (6pm Saturday 3 March)


Mardi Gras volunteers will be on-hand helping visitors navigate the exhibition.

Mardi Gras Bar of Love & Protest at NAS
Each Friday and Saturday night: 
(16, 17, 23, 24 February and 2 March), 5:30–10pm  
Special Parade Day Bar: 
Saturday 3 March, 12–6:00pm  

Join us at the Bar for the Museum of Love & Protest to celebrate all that is Mardi Gras. Open for each Friday and Saturday night during the exhibition, the Bar is the perfect place to amplify the Museum of Love & Protest experience. Each night features a different era from Sydney’s queer dance floors, including classics such as Richard Weiss with Tudorstuart Friday 16 February, Heaps Gay Saturday 17 February and House of Mince Saturday 24 February. Save the dates now!

Family Workshops at NAS

Saturday 17 February

Kids $10/Parents $20 

In conjunction with the exhibition the National Art School have created a range of workshops where you can come together as a family to learn new skills and techniques. Enjoy experimental drawing, costume-making and ceramics for Rainbow Families of all ages!  There are three amazing workshops to choose between. 

Experimental drawing, costume-making and ceramics workshops for rainbow families! For families with children aged 6 and over.

Sessions: 9.30 am–12.30pm and 1.30–4.30pm

Cost per session: parents $20 each, children $10 each 

Bookings: 02 9339 8751; Alana.Ambados@nas.edu.au