Sexuality

Adventures in sex: With new exhibits, Erotic Heritage Museum aims to offer an interactive experience

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Hop on, get off: Want to know how the two-story sex bike works? Visit the Erotic Heritage Museum.
Photo: Bill Hughes

“We have a lot of penises involved,” says Dr. Victoria Hartmann, strolling into an empty gallery inside Las Vegas’ Erotic Heritage Museum, where she serves as director. “We need more vulva.”

Ask and ye shall receive: The space will soon be home to a 10-foot vulva, part of a forthcoming exhibit called C*NT. The installation invites viewers to step inside the world of female anatomy, where they walk through a tunnel into the womb and touch a floating cervix overhead, seek out a vibrating G-spot and find the clitoris (you’ll know when a bell goes off).

It’s among a slate of new exhibits being rolled out at the EHM through October as part of its push toward immersive, interactive experiences surrounding sex-related topics. Hartmann has championed this hands-on approach since taking over as director last June. “Museums are often thought of as places that ‘hold’ stuff. People don’t want to go to a place that holds stuff; they want to have an experience,” she says. “And that’s what we’re evolving toward—a sort of museum-amusement park.”

In addition to immersive elements, Hartmann and her team are looking to broaden the EHM’s educational scope with everything from new historic artifacts and cultural exhibits (Cosplay! Sex in space! Pickled penises!) to lectures and discussions (a panel on trans identities is in the works).

On July 11, the museum debuts the permanent installation Earth, Magic, Sex, Motion alongside Bike Smut 9, a festival of erotic bicycle films. The former is a two-story interconnected arc of bicycles that vibrate and respond to rider motion, thrusting into a wall of plants that leads, fittingly, to C*NT. (The bike is also up for a Guinness record for World’s Largest Sex Bike.)

“Just as with sex, there’s a relationship of trust and intimacy when you’re riding a bike—you are the engine,” explains Reverend Phil Sano, founder of Bike Smut and the installation’s co-creator. “This is meant to question and explore taboos, as well as the joy and otherworldliness of being in that hyper-aware state.”

Next up will be Sex in the Third Reich, a historical examination of how sexuality was controlled in Germany from 1933 to 1945. On display will be what might be EHM’s most controversial artifact—lingerie worn by Hitler’s lover Eva Braun. It’s an intentionally disturbing selection, one Hartmann says highlights the contradictions surrounding the oppressive meaning and power of sex in that era. “When the government controls sexuality, it controls the people absolutely,” she says.

From those moments of discomfort in our sexual past to fringe eroticism and the anatomy of pleasure, the Erotic Heritage Museum is preserving and examining bits of humanity that might make you look twice. More importantly, it’s dedicated to helping you understand why you should.

Follow Andrea Domanick on Twitter at @AndreaDomanick and fan her on Facebook at Facebook.com/AndreaDomanick.
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