LGBT museum granted new space 

On the eve of this year’s San Francisco Pride celebration, the Planning Commission approved a 1,600-square-foot history museum in the Castro district.

The museum’s first exhibit, which could open as soon as September, will feature 25 historical items from the archives of the San Francisco GLBT Historical Society, telling a story around each one — a concept that honors the organization’s 25th anniversary.

The museum space will open up as part of an expansion of the Walgreens on 18th Street near Castro Street. Walgreens previously requested permission to expand into the neighboring laundromat in order to provide more pharmaceutical and treatment space. However, the commission axed Walgreens’ original proposal because it expanded the store’s presence on the street front.

Walgreens came back with a proposal to expand into half the space and lease the other part to the GLBT Historical Society at a discounted rate for five years.

In 2008 and ’09, the organization had a much smaller property that it leased and displayed an exhibit on 100 years of LGBT history. Though the exhibit was small and there was very limited marketing, it managed to attract about 25,000 visitors, Executive Director Paul Boneberg said.

The City’s Planning Department had recommended the commission only approve the project if it had a slightly different floorplan, but Walgreens executives said that would be too inconvenient and could jeopardize the entire project.

Supervisor Bevan Dufty, whose district includes the Castro, appealed that the commission pass the exhibit as is, arguing that the bar-heavy neighborhood desperately needs more cultural resources, and that a trip to the Castro should involve “more than picking up a T-shirt or having a meal somewhere.”

The Planning Commission ultimately approved the project unanimously.

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Katie Worth

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