[The Love & Sex Issue]

With new leadership and exhibits, the Erotic Heritage Museum evolves

From subculture to pop culture, religion to politics, the Erotic Heritage Museum touches on many sides of the story of human sexuality.
Photo: Mikayla Whitmore

Quick, define “baculum.” No? It’s a penis bone, and you can see a few for yourself at the Erotic Heritage Museum.

The museum’s owner, Harry Mohney of the Déjà Vu strip-club empire, ended things with the former curators in February of last year and reopened with a new director and new direction in June. New to the space are exhibits on the psychology of human sexuality, the biology of genitals, unusual sex practices and sex revolutionaries, among others. There’s a Game of Thrones infographic showing how often characters got it on, and—fun fact!—you can get married in the lobby and consummate your marriage there, too.

Victoria Hartmann, new director of the Erotic Heritage Museum.

Broadway show Puppetry of the Penis is coming to the museum March 24; a Comic-Con corner will honor porn parodies; and a secret project having to do with North Korea is in the works. Walking past a new BDSM display with a Paradise Electro Stimulations chair, the museum’s new director Victoria Hartmann says, “It’s kind of like the electrotherapy you get at the doctor, but inside of you.”

Alongside such artifacts, artworks are an anchor, with historic Japanese art as well as banned German, Hungarian and Russian works. Two paintings depicting flogging were saved from the Hirschfield Institute before Hitler burned it down, and, unlike before, some of the works at the Erotic Heritage Museum are for sale.

Erotic Heritage Museum

The “wall of shame” features opponents of open sexuality. And an imposing metal sculpture by Burning Man artist Jay Losofsky is on display nearby, a large wire grid in the shape of the United States labeled with words such as “hate,” “bullying,” “ageism” and “homophobia.”

“We wanted to be in your face about how religion attacks sexuality and women, and how politics attacks sexuality and women,” says Hartmann, a clinical sexologist and therapist for sexual assault victims.

Celebrity sex tapes are part of the collection, along with an exhibit on female-teacher scandals. Also new is an exhibit of gay art, photos and video, including a self-portrait by A. Rand, a gay minister who committed suicide. “We’re very passionate about exposing dogma that keeps people from expressing themselves sexually,” Hartmann says, reflecting the museum’s focus.

“This museum is not about one person, nor one collection, nor any particular mission,” reads a quote from Hartmann on the building’s exterior. “It’s about all of us as sexual beings … our fantasies, our sex practices, our history, our roots … and how these aspects have shaped us erotically.”

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