Jessie Lewthwaite sits down with Sarah Buxton – coordinator of Auckland’s Charlotte Museum – the world’s only lesbian museum.

Standing outside a purple building, I used vaping as an excuse to decompress. The Charlotte Museum was having a fundraiser in the form of a quiz night, and even with my very sporadic contributions, my brain was overstimulated.

It struck me, though, how amazing it is that in Auckland we have the world’s only Lesbian Sapphic museum! Determined to contribute to our history with more than my mediocre quiz skills, I decided to talk to a real expert.


Sarah Buxton, the museum coordinator, was nice enough to sit down with me for a chat. She explained that the museum’s mission is to “collect, preserve and exhibit lesbian sapphic cultural heritage.”

I’ve worked in education my whole career, and inspiring young people is supposed to be my job, so I was compelled to ask how to encourage younger generations to learn about the history of our community.

“Well, really, it’s the history of the communities they are now a part of,” Sarah said. She explained that unlike biological family history, which is passed down, many of our chosen families don’t share history the same way. But if we go out and find that history, it is empowering for the individuals but also acts as a way we can nurture our communities and be connected,” suggested Sarah.

The fantastic thing about the Charlotte Museum is that connection is the aim. All lesbian sapphic communities can find themselves represented, celebrated and empowered in the works collected and displayed here.

“All lesbian sapphic communities, all of us together, have to support the museum if we want it to keep going,” she explains.

When asked why the world needs a specifically ‘lesbian’ museum, Sarah gave an inspirational answer.

Sarah and coworkers outside the Charlotte Museum.

“I am definitely for uplifting everyone in our rainbow communities, celebrating who we are and making sure we all get the chance to belong and thrive.

“I feel like there’s been a renaissance, especially among younger lesbian and queer women looking for communities that reflect their own identities and experiences. They are looking for ‘their people’ – who we were, how communities were made, what happened historically to get us where we are now – so they can be a part of it.”

Having just had a friend of mine run 160 miles to raise money for the museum, I was sincerely hoping there were other ways to help support them, ways with far less cardio.

“There are many ways to support us – volunteer, attend events and donate taonga…” Sarah reassured me, “…that financial support does not have to be huge. If we had enough people donating a modest $10 a month, we could get enough to significantly reduce our dependence on fickle public funding.”

The museum is reliant on public funding, which often means they are competing with other queer organisations for the very limited funding available. However, the sense of inclusion, community and visibility Sarah provides with her work is priceless.

During Pride, the Charlotte Museum has some great events that centre on the experiences of the WLW community. We can live our L Word fantasy of being at the Planet Cafe while contributing to an excellent cause. And whether you are a baby gay, fresh out of the closet or you still remember when lesbian bars were a thing, I guarantee you will find something interesting on display.

I left my chat with Sarah in the purple building on Howe Street optimistic for our communities’ future and grateful I could help without having to run!

For more information about the Charlotte Museum or to donate to their cause, visit