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ADULT ENTERTAINMENT? GAY PORN?
Wait a second! The name of the place exhibiting male genitals doesn’t actually sound as vulgar as the title of my post: The Icelandic Phallological Museum (see what I mean?). Should you not know the meaning of phallological, you may overlook and forget that you once did pass the museum.
Phallological is a new vocabulary for me. So let’s talk about etymology first. Phallological derives from phallus, a synonym for penis in Latin. Phallology itself is a scientific study of the penis (Wiktionary).
Let’s take a closer look at what the place actually reveals. Indeed, it deserves to have its own space in my blog, separately from my previous Reykjavik post.
WHOSE IDEA IS THAT?
Sigurdur Hjartarson, the man behind the museum establishment, is a retired teacher from Hamrahlíd College in Reykjavik. His passion for collecting animal penises started in 1974 when he received a bull’s penis for the first time, then a whale penis from a whaling station in the same year.
The long-term dedication of his hobby resulted in the opening of the first Phallological Museum in 1994, focusing on assorted Icelandic animal penises and penis-related parts, from whales, walruses, to land mammals, after he succeeded collecting 62 specimens. Thanks to the contribution of local fishermen who found dead animals, nowadays it has 280 specimens from 93 different species. In 2012, Hjartarson inherited the museum to his son, Hjörtur Gísli Sigurðsson. Then, it was relocated from Húsavík to Laugavegur, the main shopping street in Reykjavik.
Don’t think big when it comes to the size of the museum as it is “only” as big as a three-bedroom grand penthouse that cost me IKr 1000 or €8 (now IKr 1250) to get in. Okay, I found it quite expensive. Nonetheless, what it exhibits matters more than just the size of the (exhibition) room.
Each visitor received a “penis bible” in an A4-sized folder that should be returned after the visit, mentioning details of each item, for instance from which animal it belongs (in several languages), size, height, weight, when and where it was found and how it was preserved. A biology class never taught me this. It would be a tough question for “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” contestants, when “phone a friend” and “ask the audience” couldn’t be much of help.
The exhibits amazed me, especially how penises, preserved in a number of methods, e.g. formaldehyde, pickling, drying, stuffing and salting, can come in various forms I’d never thought of. I remember standing in front of the longest whale penis in the room, which is 170 cm, while I’m just 155 cm! Though I couldn’t recall much what the “bible” said, I noticed that the length of a whale penis is approximately one-thirds of the whole body one, weighing up to 100 kg. Whoa!
“Phallolobia” is something no one can miss, displaying mammals’ penis bones, such as walrus, seal, pig, mouse including that of a hamster with only 2 mm length. A flower vase made of dried sperm whale penis, lampshades made of a bull’s scrotum, a wall decoration from a nearly 1-metered-length elephant penis, a pair of earrings made of oosik (mammal’s penis bone) and carved penis bones are some artsy stuffs created from the reproduction organ. Sex shop and red light district souvenirs, namely dolls, pens, plastic statuettes and other sex toys prove public interest and wild fantasy of a particular male organ that conclude the “phallolo-section”.
Somehow I pity the big elephant, shot while attempting to trespass Kruger National Park border just to chase the juicy cane. He didn’t know that his genital part will be seen by millions of visitors per year…..
HOMO SAPIENS, TOO
Here comes the peak of my male cousin’s awkwardness about the idea of displaying a genital part from his own gender in public. So yeah, perhaps he made the right decision not to enter the museum.
Starting 2011, the museum receives donations of human penises. John Dower, a British resident, donated the mould of his penis in honour to his friend Alan, who once challenged him to do so yet unfortunately killed in year 2000.
Other contributions include 15 penis sculptures of Icelandic national handball team members and a preserved penis of a 95-year-old Icelandic man. Even the founder, Sigurdur, plans to donate his own penis to his museum when he dies.
Icelandic Phallological Museum has become one of the most unusual museums in the world dedicated to a male reproduction organ. Anything porn about it? I don’t think so. What I see is the result of a long-term passion and dedication of an Icelandic family to a peculiar think that many people do not consider. Moreover, it boosts the country’s income with thousands of visitors per year, apart from its majestic wonders of nature.
Should you spend more time in Reykjavík, make sure you visit this peculiar tourist attraction. I guarantee you’ll get an interesting tell-a-tale story to share with friends and family. Why not?