The world’s first vagina museum just opened in London
This weekend saw the opening of the world’s first brick-and-mortar vagina museum in London, after a crowdfunding campaign raised nearly £ 50,000 ($ 65,000) from supporters of the whole world.
The aim of the Vagina Museum is to educate, inform about gynecological anatomy and provide a space to hear and discuss taboo topics surrounding the female body.
From the outside, the tiny premises of London’s famous Camden Stables Market look like any other trendy store or cafe. The only gift is the discreet black and white sign above the black stable door. Inside, the space is half devoted to the gift shop and half to the exhibition space. There are the usual books, gift cards, stickers, and badges, plus a small but intriguing selection of vagina-themed jewelry. You can even buy a guitar pick with the museum logo next to an abstract representation of female genitalia shaped like a peony.
The project was launched in March 2017, with founder and director Florence Schechter organizing unique events and exhibitions across the country. Two and a half years, and more than 1,000 donations later, it has its first physical premises.
“Doing the pop-ups over the past few years has shown me that people are desperate to engage with issues because it’s something they care about but can struggle to find safe and inclusive places. to have those conversations, ”she said.
A 2016 investigation found that 65% of women aged 16 to 25 felt too embarrassed to use the word “vagina” or “vulva”. They also lacked basic anatomical knowledge, and less than a quarter said they felt well informed about gynecological health issues. Another survey found that more than half of the UK public cannot correctly label all parts of the female genitalia on a diagram.
“It is so important for individuals to be able to openly discuss their anatomy and to feel that there is no stigma or shame associated with it,” said museum curator Sarah Creed. “I hope this marks the start of a shift in mindset and that these conversations get started.”
As she shows us around the museum’s first temporary exhibit, titled “Muff Busters: Vagina Myths and How to Fight Them,” Creed explains that if education was at the heart of their mission, they had to find ways to ensure a constant flow of visitors. This not only explains the crochet vulva earrings, but justifies the bold name. The museum hopes to be more than pure anatomy, aiming to cover sex, sexuality, gender identity as well as sexual and reproductive health. But calling it the “gynecological museum” would have sounded too serious and medical, says Creed. Instead, she says, they “wanted to engage with people through terminology they know.”
In addition, they wanted to stigmatize the word itself, which is often dropped in favor of euphemisms, or else referred to indirectly using the generic term “female genitals” which is not only vague and uninformative, but it is not. ‘does not include trans, non-binary and intersex people. “Saying ‘vagina’ should be like saying ‘nose’ or ‘eyes’ or ‘mouth’,” says Creed. “It’s just another part of the body.”
The Vagina Museum’s first temporary exhibit opened to the public on Saturday, November 16, 2019, but the venue has been hosting events throughout October as part of their soft launch. The museum, which is a UK registered charity, is free to enter and open seven days a week. Along with regular tours, it will host comedy nights, genital-themed quizzes and pubs. , conferences and performances.
As we walk through the exhibit, people stop to take selfies in front of a large sculpture of a tampon, covered in red glitter. No one here is fazed. But as a group of journalists who write about sex and gender regularly, we may be an easy audience. How the museum goes about attracting the people it hopes to educate will be a different challenge.
Locals recently acquired a license to serve alcohol in the evenings, causing concern to local residents. They are concerned that the museum will attract stag and hen parties who come to the museum to joke and bring noise and disturbance to the area. But these are exactly the types of groups the museum wants to reach.
“We have a lot of people coming to our quiz nights, and at first they all laugh about it, but at the end of it they say ‘wow, I didn’t actually know that!’ ”Says Creed.
There is already an online vagina museum based in Austria. Meanwhile, Iceland is home to the Phallological Museum, which has a collection of over 215 penises and penis parts, belonging to different land and sea mammals.