It's possibly the coolest institution in New York

 

If sex in a museum sounds more like something you’d do at the weekend, than a cultural enrichment activity, then think again. The Museum of Sex in New York’s Fifth Avenue is a cool way of exploring the history of your favorite hobby, being inspired and getting a little bouncy castle action into the bargain. The permanent collection looks at sex from a historic and social perspective. They’re not over intellectualizing our canoodling, but gathering together objects and art that encourage us to consider how it’s been represented over time.

 

get-inside-new-yorks-museum-of-sex-2

 

MoSex, as it likes to be known, also houses a series of diverse exhibitions, looking at everything from sci-fi voyeurism, to Linda Lovelace and sex-focussed street art. They save the best for last though, because for an extra $2 you can have a ride on their Jump for Joy inflatable, made up of soft cushiony breasts and ideal for a therapeutic endorphin rush.

 

The museum is designed to illustrate that what we find erotic isn’t fixed in stone, it’s a fluid concept, just like our understanding of sexuality and enjoyment. Take a look at the Pulsocon, a gadget made available around 100 years ago and specifically aimed at women. It supposedly cured aches, pains and the euphemistically named ‘hysteria’. We’d call the Pulsocon a vibrator today, because now women’s sexual pleasure doesn’t have to be kept secret.

 

The exhibitions can be shocking, interactive and educational; they enable the museum to elaborate on a specific theme. A title like ‘Hardcore: A Century & a Half of Obscene Imagery’ gives you an idea of what to expect, but there are still a lot of surprises in these sexy sepia prints, like spankings on a park bench, whips and huge dildos.

 

Our porn-loving ancestors had to use a little more forward planning if they wanted some visual stimulation

 

With the dazzling array of sexual imagery available to a contemporary audience at the museum of sex, it’s worth remembering that our porn-loving ancestors had to use a little more forward planning if they wanted some visual stimulation. These images are the survivors of numerous rounds of censorship, wars and simply the passing of time. Some have been donated by private collectors, while another batch of naughties was discovered by builders after being bricked up for decades, other items like the 1855 Directory to the Ladies of Fashion - which doubled as a handy New York City brothel guide - are bonanzas for anyone interested in the history of sexuality.

 

TripAdvisor has a few sniffy reviews about the Mosex pricing structure and their focus on the porn side of sexuality, but you can’t argue with the footfall. According to the executive director, Daniel Gluck, there were over 165,000 visitors in 2014 and that’s expected to double this year. He argues that although they are willing to celebrate the more ‘tawdry’ side of the sex industry, it’s always put in context. What they are really trying to achieve with the museum is to encourage a more liberated, positive attitude to sex, but he’s under no illusion about what they’re up against. The media provide a suffocating amount of bland, homogenous images of sexuality and that’s come to be the dominant representation of our private pleasure.

 

“We are building awareness that there is this other aspect of sexuality, and it can be challenging. We are fighting an uphill battle...”

 

get-inside-new-yorks-museum-of-sex-3

 

For some people who probably should get out more, sexual imagery is all about the money shot. It’s the MOR porn churned out by crusty old millionaires like Hugh Heffner who got rich peddling an idealised, heterocentric view of what we all look like and do in the sack. This kind of dross is the polar opposite of what’s being celebrated at the Museum of Sex: “We are building awareness that there is this other aspect of sexuality, and it can be challenging. We are fighting an uphill battle...” Gluck explained in a recent interview.

 

At a time when people still slip furtively into a sex shop, it’s good to know there’s a big neon sign above the MoSex front door and it’s still got the visitors pouring in. Maybe the institutional vibe of a museum gives guests permission to walk in and look around, without feeling like a creep.

 

It’s a place that promotes what we love and believe in, an alternative to the airbrushed, mainstream, product placement vision of sexuality, that’s ubiquitous in consumer culture. Turn up at the Museum of Sex with an open heart, a sense of humour, plenty of enthusiasm, and you’ll have a ball. Then, if you get a taste for it and you happen to be in town, check out the slightly more explicit versions in Amsterdam and Seoul.


© Peiling Tan, Beyond my Ken and .Martin via Flickr with CC BY 2.0 license

 


YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

1 comment

Your content will need to be approved by a moderator

Guest
You are commenting as a guest. If you have an account, please sign in.
Add a comment...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.



Guest

Posted

When do men get most of their knowledge? A:When hooked up to a lady! (__!__)

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Similar articles

Forum discussions