Exhibition Development

Listen to planning team members James Reding and Julia Erdlen go behind the scenes of the exhibition’s creation & intention

The newest Boston College Libraries (BCL) exhibit, Here All Along, Here to Stay: LGBTQ Catholics in the United States, was first conceived of by James Reding, an openly gay student at BC’s School of Theology and Ministry (STM).

James had come to BC’s Theology and Ministry Library (TML) to view an earlier exhibit, blackatbostoncollege, which was based upon content originating from the Instagram account of the same name. That exhibit focused on the academic, spiritual, and social experiences of members of the Black community on the BC campus.

While viewing that thought-provoking content, James found himself wondering if a similarly toned presentation, but one focused on the experiences of LGBTQ community members in the Catholic Church, could find expression at BC. He brought that germ of an idea to staff members of the TML, who immediately saw the potential.

A planning team was assembled, co-sponsorship from the STM and the BCL was secured, and soon James’ concept began to take shape. Along the way, three other campus libraries – O’Neill Library, the Educational Resources Center (ERC), and the Social Work Library (SWL) – also embraced the vision and contributed staff time and talent to the task.

The physical installation(s) came first. Though the elements included in the exhibit were designed with the TML’s gallery space in mind, they translated quite nicely into the other available library settings as well. So, by early June of 2021, the physical exhibit was in place in all four of the aforementioned campus libraries; however, that was only Part One of the implementation.

Part Two is this online exhibit, which was developed over the summer on the CampusPress platform, and which we are now proud to present as a complement to the four physical installations. Freed from spatial constraints, the online exhibit was afforded a lengthier period of development to accommodate expanded content.

Perhaps the most compelling part of both the physical and the online versions of this exhibit is the “Story Wall,” wherein current students and alumni of the STM share their deeply personal experiences within the Church. As you will see, some authors elected to sign their work while others chose to remain anonymous.