Missouri to move LGBTQ exhibit to new spot after Capitol controversy

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The Missouri State Capitol building at sunset on May 3, 2021.

ST. LOUIS — Friday night, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources announced it would put an exhibit chronicling the history of gay rights which had been removed from a museum in the State Capitol Rutunda, into a new location in a building adjacent to the Capitol building.

The news release raises further questions about the decision to remove the exhibit in the first place.

The release said the exhibit was pulled after the Department of Natural Resources “received complaints.”

Missouri Governor Mike Parson’s office said Thursday that proper steps weren’t followed to authorize the display, which was supposed to be in place through December 26 but was pulled Wednesday.

“We apologize for the way this unfolded,” said Dru Buntin, director of the Department of Natural Resources said in the Friday news release. “We agree the history of all Missourians is an important story that needs to be told, and we’ve made a commitment to work with the members of the State Capitol Commission and the Board of Public Buildings to do so.”

Buntin said after what was called a “careful review”, the decision was made to move the exhibit to the Lohman House,  part of the Jefferson Landing State Historic Site. 

“In response to a number of concerns, we made the decision to move the exhibit while we clarified and reviewed our internal process to make sure we were complying with state law,” Mike Sutherland, DNR’s Deputy Director.

“It sounds as if there were some members that were offended that my history would be told in the Capitol building and pushed on the Parks Department to remove it,” State Senator Greg Razer, the only openly gay member of the Missouri Senate said earlier in the week. “Personally offended that this was taken down in my state Capitol building.”

“It’s unfortunate that DNR has been put in this position by extremists in the legislature who will go to any length to erase LGBT history, Razer told WDAF after Friday’s development. “The Lohman Building sure ain’t the Capitol rotunda. Sounds like we’ve been moved from the broom closet to a walk-in closet. Better, but still a closet.”

“This is what we can do right now to make the exhibit available to the public,” a DNR spokeswoman said Friday night. “It will be available at the Lohman Building beginning tomorrow, and we encourage people to visit and continue to share their thoughts with us.”

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