Sex at the Museum
"Guys we should go to the Museum of Sex! It is literally only 2 minutes away."
Believe it or not, this conversation occurred in one of our meeting rooms earlier this fall. Everyone chimed in with their personal thoughts, ranging from “I’ve never been and I always wanted to go” to “that was actually one of my first dates with my husband.”
But those eight little words were all it took to get the ICRAVE gang all excited to visit a sex museum. This was not some bizarre personal field trip we just decided to do in the middle of our work day - we were interested in seeing how a sex museum is designed. We firmly believe that entering a space is like entering an experience and we wanted to see how it “felt." As you can see, ICRAVE is very familiar with provocative settings.
Let's see how it went -
Expectations and First Impressions
"I did not know what to expect! I walked in and was immediately greeted with dildos and price tags (the gift shop) and I thought this was going to be the concept of the entire museum experience. However, as we got into the museum, I noticed that it was educational, surprising, and eye-opening to say the least." - NR
"I was not sure what to expect. The only content from the museum I have seen in the past was the bounce boob room thing on social media. It was more explicit than I imagined." - AE
"I came to this exhibit when it opened a few years back. A friend brought me as a surprise (weird) but I had a great time. I remembered it being playful and fun and expected to have a similar experience this time around. I was surprised I learned something and discovered new artists - didn't expect that to be the case." - MA
Space and Sequence
"The scale and procession of the rooms and stairwell made it feel like you were walking through someone's private residence, which gave it an air of intrigue ('what am I about to discover when I turn the corner?) This makes sense because the Museum of Sex building was previously a brothel." - MS
"I believe the Museum of Sex was designed as a typical museum. The exhibits were set up in a MoMA-like fashion, with some being right in the middle of the room at times. The only difference were the entrances and paths to exhibits: every entrance was dark and foreboding, as if you are about to enter a haunted house, a brothel, or maybe even a peep show. It really set the mood." - NR
"It resembled a museum of natural history more than an art gallery. It was more immersive - the most analogous experience would be a children's science museum." - AE
"Without being grand and luxurious, it did feel well-designed and robust, not cheap or treated as low-culture. The exhibit design elevated the subject matter to the same level as any other museum would." - MS
"Overall, the museum offers a diverse set of exhibits, which keeps the visit dynamic and interesting. The mix of history, product design, art, and fashion showcases how sex is everywhere and influences everything. I wish the design of the exhibits were more interactive and as unexpected as the content." - MA
"I was surprised by the diversity of exhibition subjects. MoSex covered most subjects you would find in other types of museum - science, history, art, technology, anthropology, design - but with the overlay of sex." - MS
"I think the general tone is to just see sex as a natural thing and to educate people on how sex has evolved in our culture over the past 100+ years. But it also never really changed - we are still interested in the same things but we just do it differently now." - NR
"The animal sex exhibit looked like a Bronx Zoo display from the early 2000s." - AE
"The exhibit about animal sex at first seemed out of place because of its scientific focus and I was expecting exclusively human sex in this museum. It was both informative and disturbing. I'm not sure how enriched my life is now that I know about dolphin blowhole sex or that the the animal with the longest penis relative to its overall size is the duck, but at least I can say that i know those facts now." - ES
"There was an animal sex exhibit which was really interesting, but also slightly disturbing for me. I found out that threesomes and homosexual sex is also found in the animal world, along with oral sex and anal sex. Who would have thought?!" - NR
"I really liked the exhibit about the history of pornography. Not only were the vintage photographs and dirty literature from the 18th century fun to learn about, I actually learned about a significant period of American history where 'obscene literature and articles of immoral use' were illegal, confiscated, and destroyed. The fact that the Comstock Laws also applied to contraceptives and abortifacients also make it relevant to current affairs as well." - ES
"My favorite was the secret Zana Bayne collaboration. The exhibit was tucked away, under the museum shop, and it was a surprise to find high fashion here. Very beautiful work." - MA
"I loved the catalog of sex objects. The objects were given a '2001: Space Odyssey' ethereal importance through the lighting and the clear plexi stands." - AE
"The exhibition that stood out to me most was the last one entitled 'Hard Core.' It was the most interesting to me as it touched on aspects of sex cultures from all eras. They also had various newspaper/magazine clippings from the early 1900s depicting things I never would have thought were feasible thoughts in that time. My favorite was a pamphlet a young woman of various sex positions and ways to please your lover. I also really enjoyed the photography of that time. It was quite a sight to see two people engaging in oral sex dressed in Victorian clothing." - NR
"The ObjectXXX exhibit was so objective, straight-forward, and categorical. Until your eyes actually focused on some of the objects in the room, the display almost seems platonic. Until you see the life-size sex doll, that is." - MS
So, what did we learn?
Well, for one - that the sex museum down the street isn’t a nasty place with just a bunch of dildos and chains. We learned that oral sex and nudes have been around since basically the dawn of time. We learned that animals have threesomes. We learned that there have been vibrators since forever. We also learned how to create a space that is basically about sex to be educational, exciting and enlightening.
After all, as Jennifer Tyburczy writes - "all museums are sex museums."