Photo at the new gallery space of SNMA, with Executive Director David Jobin (left) and Chief Curator Charles L. Ross (right) by Tony Adams

Stonewall National Museum & Archives (SNMA) located at 1300 East Sunrise Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale has outgrown its space, and will open the doors of its expansion in March of this year at 2157 and 2159 Wilton Drive in the heart of Wilton Manors. The new space will facilitate larger events, and will contain galleries for exhibits and art.

SNMA Executive Director, David Jobin, when asked if the move meant leaving Fort Lauderdale, said, “No. Our library and our archives will remain at the Sunrise Boulevard location. Its climate-controlled artifact room will expand into space formerly dedicated to staff offices and smaller displays. Our additional new space in Wilton Manors will give us the room we need for our events, meetings and galleries. It will make Stonewall available and welcoming to a larger number of LGBT residents and friends and visitors.”

Jobin describes the new space as “the front door of the LGBT community.”

The expansion will combine two vacant storefronts containing bathrooms and kitchens that will be gutted and reconfigured into flexible space. The large windows will attract foot traffic and drive-by attention to SNMA’s full calendar of events and exhibitions.

The existing Charles L. Ross Gallery will relocate into a larger, dedicated gallery space, allowing for greater visual displays including large-format printing, and video and photo projections.

“This is an exciting opportunity to design the Wilton Manors Gallery space with the specific needs of its exhibitions and meetings in mind,” explained Chuck Ross, Chief Curator of SNMA. In the course of a tour of the new space, Ross explained his vision for the space with no fear of ambitious renovation that will entail some demolition and the moving of walls.

SNMA’s strategic programming and new location will draw the interest of both visitors during South Florida’s high tourism season and local South Florida residents to make the new Stonewall National Museum & Archives – Wilton Manors Gallery a focal point of enticing and relevant LGBT cultural opportunities all year long. Following the great success of the SNMA Conversationsseries at a pop-up museum location in Wilton Manors during June 2013, SNMA will program a series to explore and celebrate the rich past and future of the South Florida LGBT community.

The operating hours of SNMA’s new Wilton Manors Gallery will extend to 11 p.m., with special late night and midnight screenings, receptions and other events taking place to attract new patrons from neighboring restaurants and bars. Foot traffic surveys conducted at the Wilton Manors space showed favorable numbers of pedestrian and vehicle traffic that grew steadily throughout the afternoon and evening hours.

In the course of his tour of the new space, curator Ross also emphasized that the expansion will allow SNMA to show visitors more of the contents of its vast and growing archives. Until this expansion, space limitations have meant that much of the material stored in the archives is never seen by anyone except the staff of SNMA. When reminded that the Vatican Museum faces similar constraints that mean tourists see only a small percent of its collections, Ross said, “That is the only thing we have in common with the Vatican.”

SNMA hopes to cross-pollinate visitors between its new galleries in Wilton Manors and its library and archives on East Sunrise Boulevard raising awareness of the resources SNMA offers at its home base, including a 25,000 title book and 6,000 title DVD library, magazine reading room and guided monthly tours of the archives.

SNMA is currently celebrating its 40th anniversary and will hold a benefit fundraiser An Evening with Megan Mullally on Thursday, January 16, 2014, at the Parker Playhouse. The benefit features premium seats to the performance, open bar, silent auction, and champagne meet-and-greet with Megan Mullally for VIP ticketholders. Visit stonewall-museum.org or call 954-763-8565 for tickets and more information.