Our co-founders, Charles Leslie and Fritz Lohman, began showing and collecting art in their SoHo loft in 1969 to provide an outlet for gay artists. With an attendance of over 200 people at their first weekend exhibition, they quickly realized there was a need for this type of venue in the community.
During the 1980s with the rise of AIDS and the death of so many artists and collectors, Charles and Fritz realized that many important works of art were being destroyed by families who, because they didn't know what to do with this type of art or didn't want to acknowledge the sexuality of their loved ones, threw amazing collections of art in the dumpster. Charles and Fritz knew these works had to be preserved.
This need for a safe haven for art that is often excluded or looked down upon led them to create the Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation, Inc., in 1987, a non-profit organization, exempt from taxation under section 501(c)3 of the IRS code. A complete copy of the Foundation's 990 tax return can be found at Guidestar.org. Since then, the organization has grown from a small "underground" gallery on Prince Street, to its present spacious location at 26 Wooster Street.
In May 2011, in recognition of the Foundation's work on collecting and exhibiting LGBTQ work, the New York State Board of Regents awarded a provisional charter of official museum status making it the first and only gay art museum in the world. In December 2015, the New York State Board of Regents, at our request, merged the Museum and the Foundation entities for all purposes and we now operate solely under the name Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, a charitable entity exempt from taxation under section 501(c)3 of the IRS code.
As with all non-profits organizations exempt from taxation, neither the Foundation nor the Museum can intervene in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office. See the Foundation's Policy on Political Activities.