Museum Gives Space To ACT UP

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Photo by John McDonald

Inside the World AIDS Museum and Educational Center in Wilton Manors is a space devoted to legendary advocacy group ACT UP.

“In the old days we protested with placards and signs,” said Ed Sparan, operations manager at the museum’s Wilton Station location. “Now they do it on Facebook and Twitter.”

In the space designated for ACT UP are bits and pieces of memorabilia from the group’s heydays of the 1980s and 1990s. Formed in 1987, ACT UP was the brainchild of HIV/AIDS activist Larry Kramer.

Sparan attended an event with Kramer last week at Sunshine Cathedral in Fort Lauderdale. The event, an interview style format, recognized the significant achievement of ACT UP and Kramer’s life work.

“There’s still a fire in his belly,” Sparan said of Kramer, who is now in his 80s. “The crowd was glued to their chairs. They didn’t move a muscle.”

Related: Kramer: 'You Have To Be Seen and Shove It in their F*cking Faces'

Sparan is hoping the ACT UP exhibit sparks a new generation of activism -- even among neighbors. He remarked there are residents of the building who have yet to darken the museum’s doors.

“Thirty-nine thousand people have died from AIDS in the three years we have been here,” Sparan said. “We’re the only museum about AIDS in the world.”

In the ACT UP space are historical documents such as a bail fund policy, a 1990 Miami Herald article about a ‘die-in,’ and a 2008 condoms campaign launched by the New York chapter. The campaign’s LGBT Pride message was called “Fuck Safe” and featured advertisements of shirtless men with the words “condoms are all you need to wear.”

“30 Years With ACT UP -- Disease, Art, Human Resilience” is on display through April. For hours of operation or more information, visit www.worldaidsmuseum.org or call (954) 390-0550.

Related: Museum Shares Stories of HIV Positive Millenials 


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