4 March – 29 November 2020
The exhibition Losing Venus, consisting of multiple installations by artist Matt Smith, highlights the colonial impact on LGBTQ+ lives across the British Empire and seeks to make queer lives physically manifest within the Museum. From 1860 onwards, the British Empire criminalized male-to-male relations, imposing lengthy prison sentences and the legacy of these legal codes lives on. Of the 72 countries in the world with anti-gay laws, 38 of them were once subject to British colonial rule. As a response to these colonialist gender laws, Losing Venus seeks to place contemporary discrimination, which is still affecting the lives of many around the world, at the heart of one of the cultural centres of the country which exported it, examining their impact through the lens of sexual identity and gender fluidity.
The name Losing Venus is a reference to the idea of love and gender, but also references the purpose of Captain Cook's first voyage: to measure the transit of the planet Venus. The installation will comprise four main parts located throughout the galleries.