Museums With A Difference

Education, art or voyeurism? Five of the world’s best sex museums.


By Larissa Loges, dpa

Amsterdam is famous for its red-light scene and sex museums, but the Dutch capital is by no means the only city that offers tourists the chance to explore the endlessly fascinating ritual of copulation. Here are five of the best.


1. Amsterdam: Sex Museum, Erotic Museum, Red Light Secrets

Amsterdam has three sex museums, but they are all within a stone’s throw of each other, so you might as well take a peek at all three.


In the Sex Museum, there is a whole section dedicated to Irish writer Oscar Wilde – and he is not the only personality whose sex life is featured. There is also painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and dancers Mata Hari and Josephine Baker.


Photos and pictures aplenty are on display, a great many of them pornographic and dating back to 1895. Other highlights include condoms from the 1950s, erotic motifs on Chinese vases, a “Bouncing Betty” and a telephone offering an earful of dirty talk.


At the Erotic Museum a few blocks away, the entrance is bathed in red. Over several floors, the museum promises “a collection of erotic art from the entire world.”


At Red Light Secrets, a museum dedicated to prostitution, you can sit in a window with a red light, like Amsterdam’s prostitutes do – albeit in virtual reality form. The place bills itself as the “first prostitution museum in the world.”


2. Sex Machines Museum, Prague

This museum, established in 2002, claims to be the only museum in the world dedicated to sex machines. But what, exactly, is a sex machine?


The answer is quickly provided inside, where there are around 300 display items that humans have created for the purpose of sexual stimulation. Rounding off the experience is a small cinema showing old erotic black-and-white films.


The Sex Machines Museum in Prague features around 300 display items that humans have created for the purpose of sexual stimulation. Photo: Sex Machines Museum Archive/dpa Photo: Sex Machines Museum Archive/dpa  Credit: Sex Machines Museum Archive / Sex Machines Museum Archive/dpa


3. Museum of Sex (MoSex), New York

MoSex is not a museum for a Sunday afternoon with grandma – at least not the part where visitors can jump up and down in a bouncy castle in the shape of a huge pair of breasts called “Jump for Joy” – and this right in the middle of Manhattan.


Jump for Joy was initially created for MoSex as part of the “Funland” exhibition by the British artistic duo Bompas & Parr, and was so popular that the museum decided to keep it.


Its stated artistic aim is “to increase awareness of the body and to create the thrilling possibility of physical contact between strangers.”


4. Icelandic Phallological Museum, Reykjavik

Phallology. What sounds like some flu virus is actually an ancient science – of the penis. The museum is based on the private collection of retired teacher Sigurdur Hjartarson.


Visitors can see around 300 genuine penises floating in formaldehyde behind plexiglas. There are also male sex organs on display from whales, bears, seals, cats, hamsters, and many other mammals.


5. Erotic Art Museum, Hamburg

This museum has a turbulent history. First opened in Hamburg’s red-light district of St Pauli in 1992, it was shut down in 2007 amid a legal wrangle between the museum founder and the owner of the building.


However, the museum was reopened in April 2018 in the Bernhard-Nocht-Strasse and once again it is enriching the St Pauli scene with international works of erotic art.


The Erotic Art Museum in Hamburg first opened in the red-light district of St Pauli in 1992. Photo: Erotic Art Museum Hamburg/dpa-tmn Photo: Erotic Art Museum Hamburg/dpa  Credit: Erotic Art Museum Hamburg / Erotic Art Museum Hamburg/dpa


Main Image: Models of copulating animals can be seen at the Museum of Sex (MoSex) in New York.

Photo: Museum of Sex New York City/dpa Photo: Museum of Sex New York City/dpa
Credit: Museum of Sex New York City / Museum of Sex New York City/dpa

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