If you ask google what a museum is it describes it as building that stores and displays objects of historical, scientific, artistic or cultural interest. In 1998 the Museums Association agreed to define museums as places that ‘enable people to explore collections for inspiration, learning and enjoyment. They are institutions that collect, safeguard and make accessible artefacts and specimens, which they hold in trust for society’.
This is why one man’s collection of examples of a specific body part has been made into the Icelandic Phallological Museum. And following the definitions above it is not just a collection but a museum; it’s a wonderful display of items of a cultural interest made accessible on display for a visitor’s education and enjoyment.
I was lucky enough to visit Iceland in January 2015 and the Icelandic Phallological Museum was high up on my ‘To Do’ list. Why? Because it’s something different, in fact there isn’t another museum of its type. It has specimens from almost all of the land and sea mammals found in Iceland. The website indicates that there are over 215 specimens in total, from 46 different kinds of mammal. Before people get upset, these animals were not killed for their penises.
From the outside you could mistake it for just another shop, if the unabashed logo does not make you do a double take. The museum itself does not take schlong (sorry) to wander around, but there are an overwhelming amount of ‘things’ to look at in such a small space. Many of the specimens are what are referred to as ‘wet specimens’, floating in liquid, usually formalin, to preserve them. Usually such specimens are behind glass as an extra precaution, but most were just neatly arranged on shelves; except a giant whale member which has centre stage in the middle of the room.
Labels are basic, naming the animal that the specimen has come from, but this is in multiple languages. There are not dusty old fashioned museum cabinets, the room is bright and well lit. It also does not take itself too seriously, which is a relief because it is after all a penis museum. There are some cheeky pieces of art and a tacky plastic toy of a flasher who performs at the press of a button. My favourite specimen would probably have to be the casts of the Icelandic handball team, it shows the support of at least some Icelanders to build the collection and add to it in different ways so that it is not just animal specimens floating in jars. My Granny was lucky enough to get a postcard of the casts, much to her and probably the postman’s amusement.
One thing I really would recommend to those visiting is to find and watch a documentary called ‘The Final Member’. This follows the story of the museums acquisition of a human penis. It is a surreal watch, but it helps to explain why the museum was set up from the founder himself.
Photos by Nomad’s Scrapbook.