Hundreds of photographs, papers and historical objects documenting the history of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people were added to the Smithsonian Institution's collection Tuesday, including items from popular TV show Will & Grace.
Show creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick, along with NBC, donated objects to the National Museum of American History. The collection includes scripts, casting ideas and political memorabilia relating to the show.
Kohan said the Smithsonian's interest in the show, which featured gay principal characters, was a validation they never dreamed about when the sitcom began airing in 1998. Will & Grace ran through May 2006, depicting four friends both gay and straight.
The donation is part of a larger effort to document lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history, an area that has not been well understood at the museum. Curators are collecting materials from LGBT political, sports and cultural history.
Some items being donated include the diplomatic passports of Ambassador David Huebner, the first openly gay U.S. ambassador confirmed by the Senate, and his husband; materials from a gay community center in Baltimore; and photography collections from Patsy Lynch and Silvia Ros documenting gay rights activism.
"There have always been gender nonconforming people in the U.S., and we've made contributions and lived life since the beginning of the country," said curator Katherine Ott, who focuses on sexuality and gender. "It's not talked about and analyzed and understood in the critical ways in which it should be."