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Smithsonian adds ‘Will & Grace’ items to new LGBT history collection

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The Smithsonian National Museum of American History is adding a LGBT history collection on Tuesday. According to an August 19 report by the Associated Press, this collection will include hundreds of photographs, papers and historical objects documenting the long history of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. This will include items from the 1990s popular TV show “Will and Grace.”

The show, which ran from 1998 to 2006, was one of the first primetime television shows to feature LGBT characters in prime roles. The success of the show was an important staple in the progress of the LGBT community in both television and societal acceptance. As “Will & Grace” was a show depicting four friends both gay and straight, it’s popularity signified the importance of friendship and how they connected emotionally towards one another with sexuality not playing a factor.

Show creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick are donating objects to the museum. NBC will also add to the collection, which includes original scripts, casting ideas, props, and even Will Truman’s framed college diploma. Kohan told the Associated Pess that he never dreamed that the show would be an interest to the Smithsonian.

He said, “These particular guests that were invited into people’s living rooms happened to be your gay friends. I don’t think people really had the opportunity to have that before, and it served to, I think, make people recognize that your close friends were gay. The face that it’s in the American history (museum), maybe we were a part of something that was bigger than we ever imagined.”

“Will & Grace” played a part in familiarizing a mainstream audience with gay culture through comedy, but is just a small piece of a larger effort to document gay and lesbian history through television, politics, social issues, sports and culture.

Curator Katherine Ott focuses on sexuality and gender at the museum. She said, “There have always been gender non-conforming people in the U.S., and we’ve made contributions and lived life since the beginning of the country. It’s not talked about and analyzed and understood in the critical ways in which it should be. So for us to build the collection means we can more fully document the history of this country.”