With humor, science, art and a lot of penises in jars, the Icelandic Phallological Museum seeks to loosen some of the taboos around your favorite biological organ, the penis.
The museum’s website boasts that it is “probably the only museum in the world to contain a collection of phallic specimens belonging to all the various types of mammal found in a single country.” That’s a very specific niche to fill.
The Museum’s Collection
The museum’s collection includes over 200 penises and penile parts belonging to the creatures of Iceland, including whales, walruses and humans.
Several men have pledged to donate their penises to the museum after their deaths. One of them, an American with the stars and stripes tattooed on his genitals, proudly announced he wanted to donate his penis while still alive.
There’s even a folklore section devoted to the penises of mythical creatures, like trolls, mermen and several varieties of ghost.
The museum’s curator and director, Hjörtur Gísli Sigurðsson, says he can’t quite pin down which exhibit he likes best.
“The truth is that I have a favorite in every section of the museum,” he says. “In the marine mammal division, the sperm whale is a contender just because of its sheer size, but my favorite is the walrus which we harvested in 2008 from an exceptionally large and old animal that crawled on land and died of old age.”
Sigurðsson also praised the reindeer penis for its “lovely colors.” Of the foreign specimens, he likes the giraffe, which he describes as “a big, light colored specimen shaped like something out of a space movie, with a small feeler on the frontmost tip of it.”
The Museum’s History
It all began with a bull penis, according to museum founder Sigurður Hjartarson. On boyhood summer vacations to the countryside, the future phallological museum founder received a pizzle — a whip made from a bull penis to be used to strike farm animals.
Years later, in 1974, while working as the headmaster in a secondary school, some of Hjartarson’s teachers started bringing him whale penises to tease him.
But instead of being annoyed, Hjartarson was fascinated. He started collecting them, as well as penises from other species of mammal. His personal collection gradually grew, and in 1997 he opened up a museum in Reykjavík.
Current director Sigurðsson took over for his father in 2011.
“When my father decided to retire, the decision came easy and gladly for me,” Sigurðsson says. “I hope that in the future when I decide to retire, my kids will take over.”
The Museum’s Mission
Sigurðsson says he hopes that the museum will help free visitors from some of the taboos associated with the penis.
“We hope that people will realize that all subjects can be talked about and discussed when brought to light in the right manner. We try to show our visitors that the penis is like any other part of the anatomy. It’s just been shrouded in secrecy and shame for so long that we don’t talk about it like we talk about our hands and feet, for example. We are putting it out in the open.
(Header image via the Icelandic Phallological Museum’s website)