Drag involves altering one’s appearance and performing mannerisms associated with a particular gender, which is typically, but not always, different from the one with which the performer identifies. Over the course of the twentieth century, drag performance in the United States developed from something of a novelty act into an independent and impactful performance genre that permeated American culture.

This exhibition traces the evolution of American drag, calling attention to the ways in which it both reflected and inspired changing perceptions of femininity, masculinity, and sexuality. The photographs, ephemera, and other materials on display showcase the range of styles and talents that went into the making of modern drag and highlight the genre’s shifting and expanding appeal for American audiences.

This exhibition was curated by Matthew Wittmann, Curator of the Harvard Theatre Collection.

Planning to visit?

Houghton's exhibition spaces are open to all visitors; face coverings are recommended.

Join us for a tour!

Join exhibition curator Matthew Wittmann for a special guided tour of American Drag. This 45-minute tour will include discussion of the themes of the exhibition, highlights from the portraits on display, and ample time for participant questions.

Persons with disabilities who would like to request accommodations or have questions about physical access may contact Houghton Library's Administrative Coordinator Le Huong Huynh at lehuong_huynh@harvard.edu or at 617-495-2443 at least 48 hours in advance of the tour.