A Museum Of Sex Destroyed
On May 6th, 1933, three months after Hitler came to power, a mob of Nazi 'students' ransacked Berlin's Sexualwissenschaft (Institute of Sexology), stripping it of its collection. Four days later, they burnt it in a public square.
The reason? Anti-semitism likely was one motive, as was covering up the homosexuality of those Nazi officials that had been patients of the Institute's founder, Magnus Hirschfeld.
Plans For A New Museum Of Sex
Over half a century later, Daniel Gluck tried to found a similar museum as a non-profit in NYC, a place he believed had 'learned to tolerate difference.' His aim was to open a site dedicated to the 'history, evolution and cultural significance of human sexuality'. The NY State Board of Regents refused his application on the grounds that his idea made 'a mockery' of the concept of museums.
Gluck could possibly have gotten funding from the porn industry, but opted instead to go it alone. He pressed on, accepting of the fact that when it first opened he would need to charge a heavy ticket price.
Before this could happen however his project attracted controversy. William Donohue, one time head of the US Catholic league and notorious defender of paedophile priests, denounced it as a 'museum of smut'.
'If the museum's officials were honest they would include a death chamber,' he went on to say. 'That would acknowledge all the wrectched diseases that promiscuity caused'.
No one paid attention to him.
When the museum opened in 2002 it faced no opposition from actual religious officials. It has since even hosted an event called 'faith in latex', which brought together Catholic, Pentecostal, Episcopalian, Buddhist and Jewish leaders.
Exhibitions At The Museum Of Sex
Over the years the museum has gone from strength to strength. It has generated over 30 exhibitions, including: 'NYC Sex: How New York City Transformed Sex In America', 'Sex Among The Lotus: 2500 Years of Chinese Erotic Obsession', 'GET OFF: Exploring The Pleasure Principles', 'Men Without Suits: Objectifying The American Male Body', and 'US Patent Office Sex Invetions'.
In 2009, it expanded. An extra floor was added along with an additional gallery and later an aphrodisiac-themed cafe. It now features a collection of over 20,000 artworks, photos, costumes, inventions, videos, sexually related objects and more.
Interested in finding more places like this? Try one of our NYC Scavenger Hunts - untangle cryptic clues as a team, as you are taken on a journey to the most unique, unusual and bizarre corners of NYC.
One More Thing
The Museum of Sex is in NYC's 'tenderloin' district, a place famous for its 19th century brothels, dance halls, theaters and saloons. To find out more about the area, check out our article on Jefferson Market Library.