When Florence Schechter discovered that there’s a penis museum in Iceland, but no vagina museum anywhere in the world, she was “pretty miffed.” In fact, the only thing that came close was an online vagina museum in Austria.
“There is no physical space wholly dedicated to vaginas and the people who have them,” she told me. So, she decided there was only one thing to be done: “Make one.”
Schechter set about creating the Vagina Museum back in March 2017. It all started with a pop-up. Two and a half years later, the Vagina Museum will finally open its first brick-and-mortar premises in London’s Camden Market.
The first exhibition will be called “Muff Busters” and will debunk some of the most “pervasive and problematic myths surrounding ‘the notorious V.A.G,'” per a press release.
So, why do we need a museum that’s dedicated to vaginas? Back in 2017, when Schechter was in the process of raising money for the premises, I asked her this exact question.
“Because vaginas are amazing! There is such a wonderful variety out there and diversity is what makes this world beautiful. Vaginas are not talked about enough. Why is that?” she said.
It’s precisely this silence that surrounds the vagina that Schechter wants to address. “This has major implications such as people not going to their doctors about their health as they aren’t comfortable talking about it, not seeking help when they’re victims of abuse, and issues like consent and contraception,” Schechter said.
A report by UK gynaecological cancer research charity Eve Appeal found that 65 percent of young British women have a problem using the words “vagina” or “vulva” and almost 40 percent of 16-25 year olds use code names like “lady parts” when discussing their gynaecological health. According to cervical cancer charity Jo’s Trust, more than a quarter of 25 to 29 year olds in Britain feel “too embarrassed to attend cervical screening.”
The Vagina Museum will open to the public on Nov. 16 and admission will be free of charge. Per a press release, the museum is “inclusive and open to people of all ages, genders, and sexual orientation.”
We have some VERY exciting news to share… WE ARE OPENING! We have a date – 16th November! We have a premises – Units 17&18 Stables Market, Camden! We're busily preparing our first exhibition! Now all we need is YOU to come along and see us in the flesh…
— Vagina Museum (@vagina_museum) September 18, 2019
The museum will also launch an outreach programme supporting healthy and inclusive sex and relationships education, and will work with doctors and medical professionals to offer services and support to the trans and intersex communities.
Like most museums, there will be a bustling programme of events including film screenings, workshops, stand-up comedy, quiz nights, not to mention a gift shop bursting with vagina and vulva merchandise. You’ll also be able to hire the museum as a venue for things like hen parties, first period parties, or even conferences.
“This is a part of the body that should be celebrated,” Schechter said in a statement about the museum’s opening. “The museum is a fantastic way to spread the message that there is nothing shameful or offensive about vaginas and vulvas.”
The Vagina Museum will be located at Unit 17 and 18 Stables Market, Chalk Farm Road, London, NW1 8AH and there will be no minimum age requirement (other than during age-restricted film screenings). It opens to the public on Nov. 16, 2019.