The Vagina Museum is the world’s first museum dedicated to the vagina, vulva and female anatomy in general. The project started in 2017 with a series of various exhibitions across the UK, but in 2019 the donkey museum in Camden Market in northwest London is in a very picturesque location.
The founders of the project are Florence Schechter, a specialist in science communication. She is assisted by exhibition curators Sarah Creed and Zoe Williams. “We want to see a world where no one will be ashamed of their body, all people have their own anatomy, and humanity must work to build a society that would be free and have equal rights.”
The first exhibition of the museum is held under the theme “Mythbusters: myths about the vagina and how to deal with them”, it, like many other exhibitions, is educational in nature. Its goal is to eliminate the most popular misconceptions about the female anatomy: what it looks like, what it smells like, how menstruation goes, as well as issues of sexual life and contraception.
Sarah Creed, curator of the exhibition, explains that they also focused on the myths that pubic hair is terribly unhygienic, and also that “the vagina should always smell like a bunch of flowers.” Sarah did not hesitate to show her own underwear at the exhibition as an exhibit showing vaginal discharge. At the same exhibition, models of tampons and menstrual cups are presented, as well as a lot of illustrations of vaginas and vulvas. The exhibition is currently free to visit.
The creators of the gallery describe their goals as follows:
1. Spread knowledge to raise awareness about female anatomy and health.
2. Give people the confidence to talk about their anatomy.
3. Destroy the stigma around our body and female anatomy.
4. Serve as a place to build a community that advocates for feminism and LGBT+.
According to this year’s YouGov poll in Britain, 52% of those surveyed could not name a single function of the vagina and could not determine it visually, 47% did not know anything about the labia, and 58% about the urethra. 65% of respondents aged 16-25 have difficulty pronouncing the words “vagina” and “vulva” aloud. According to data from 2002 to 2012, the number of cosmetic surgeries on the labia increased by 500%.
Museum founder Florence Schechter says: “Our top priority is to break down the taboos that surround our bodies and create a place where we can start an open and honest dialogue.”
An exhibit of the Vagina Museum is knitted vulvas. “We will teach you how to crochet vulvas of any color.”
The museum does not have a minimum age for visiting, but there are signs indicating that a particular exhibit may cause anxiety in a child or provides information exclusively for adults. (Animals, by the way, are also allowed if they are well-behaved). The museum is also open to artists who wish to submit their work for exhibition.
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