Week 4 | Contextualization

nikki fragala barnes
3 min readJun 10, 2021

[Previously in this series, a summer internship with the LGBTQ History Museum of Central Florida: Intro/Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3| Week 5 | Week 6.]

Image from OrlandoWeekly story about Parliament House’s closing.

Week 4 | 10 June 2021

The work of public historians is negotiated among three intersecting and equal aims: research, interpretation, and contextualization. As I prepare for the pre-production stage of this curated series of video pathways, I am working within these three prongs of public history.

My efforts here draw on my work creating thick contextualizations for the Queer Spaces exhibit (on display during June 2021) at The Center Orlando as well as my experience visiting the Community exhibition at the Orange County Regional History Center which responds to the fifth anniversary of the Pulse tragedy in Orlando, FL.

The scholarly practice of curation is an applied form of critical making where the creative and academic work merge, and both the process and object are documented in an exhibit. As I engage with this form of scholarship, I am building an experience for researchers and the community at large to encounter a set of artifacts via the digital platform as an entry threshold to invite and encourage further engagement. My priority is to first identify specific areas to feature and then select representative item/s. I created a preliminary list, allowing for the final series to be between seven and twelve videos. The categories are listed below.

Specific to Central FL:

  • Parliament House
  • University of Central Florida
  • Walt Disney World Resort

General areas:

  • the history of preserving LGBTQ history
  • spirituality and / or spiritual practice
  • local / regional connection to national issues
  • early Pride-month events
  • government and policy
  • Black LGBTQ+ life
  • philanthropy
  • creative art / work in translation
  • LGBTQ+ youth
  • profile of community leaders and material culture
  • print culture and in-community guides

Anchored in places and spaces, this digital series connects queer spaces that have been, are, and will be. Orlando was home to the first openly gay resort, Parliament House, which closed in November 2020. I will be sharing the program from its 1975 opening and contextualizing the historical moments of its landmark beginning with the lens that all of Parliament House’s history now lives only in memory.

The University of Central Florida claims the first officially organized gay organization, now Equal, formerly GBSU, Gay and Bisexual Student Union. I will be verifying this as well as extending the trajectory of its influence and effects among the largest public university in Florida.

A leader in support, advocacy, and employment of members of the LGBTQ community, Walt Disney World Resort calls Orlando home. I will be featuring artifacts from the earliest Gay Day and researching the 2021 celebration as well.

Entering into the pre-production stage of this project involves ongoing research, interpretation, contextualization, script writing, location scouting, and screen tests. I will continue this adventure in public scholarship and critical making!

Works Cited

Ratto, Matt. “Flwr Pwr: Tending the Walled Garden.” 2-day Critical Making Workshop for the Walled Garden conference, Virtual Platform, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, November 20–22, 2008.



nikki fragala barnes

Nikki Fragala Barnes is a transdisciplinary scholar of the arts and humanities. Research interests include place-based public histories and archives.