I had been exploring the museum for a little more than an hour, appreciating the exhibits, enjoying the art and learning quite a few new things. That’s what good museum experiences are about, right?
But before I left to continue my exploration of other interesting sites in the area, I decided to use the facilities. Finding my way down a hallway where the unisex restroom was located, I stopped just before putting my hand on the door knob.
That’s when I lost it. That’s when I began to giggle uncontrollably. You see, the handle to the bathroom door was – how can I say this delicately? The door handle was a penis.
The name of the museum is officially the Icelandic Phallological Museum in downtown Reykjavik, but everyone just calls it The Penis Museum.
In Your Bucket because...
- You appreciate science and anatomy, human and animal.
- It’s the only Penis Museum in the world, so it has to be on your bucket list.
- Good for those who do not embarrass easily and can control their giggles
A Scientific Collection of Male Reproductive Organs
As obscene and perverted as the idea of a penis museum may sound, this particular collection is actually very scientific and informative, presented in a scholarly manner that may disappoint those with more prurient interests. The collection includes more than 220 penises and penile parts that once belonged to mammals commonly found on land and sea around Iceland.
There are a variety of seal, dolphin and whale penises. Minke whales are most common in these waters, along with the occasional humpback and sperm whale. A sperm penis. That’s worth a giggle. Many are enclosed in formaldehyde-filled glass jars, while others are dried and stuffed in an odd style of taxidermy.
But the exhibits include no-nonsense narrative about the mating habits of these mammals, the age of sexual maturity and the overall reproductive process, despite there being no adjacent museum for vaginas.
The land mammal collection includes everything from farm animals to wildlife found in Iceland. The famous Icelandic ponies exhibit is particularly interesting. The human exhibit leads one to question the lifestyle of the contributor. The smallest penis on display belonged to a hamster.
Penile Art and Folklore
The Penis Museum also includes about 350 pieces of art featuring male private parts. Most are human male sex organs, like the door handle on the restroom, but interestingly enough a hollow whale penis suspended by decorative rope makes a lovely vase for artificial flowers. Souvenirs include bottle openers in the shape of a penis, cocktail napkins and T-shirts that would not be appropriate to wear to your child’s school PTA meeting.
A very shiny exhibit in one corner catches the eye of those trying not to look too closely at some of the details. It is a silver cast of penises belonging to the men of the Icelandic National Handball Team, who won silver at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
Founder of the Penis Museum
Sigurδur Hjartarson is a scholar with degrees in Latin American History, teaching history and Spanish at a college in Reykjavik. He’s a respectable guy in the community, a husband and father. He’s the founder of the Penis Museum.
It started when he was a child working on area farms during the summer months. He was given a pizzle, otherwise known as a bull penis, to use as a whip to move the farm animals about. Friends who worked at a nearby whaling station gave him his first whale penises as a joke. Slowly the collection grew to become what it is today.
- The Penis Museum is located at 115 Laugavegur, about two blocks from the main bus station in Reykjavik. (354-561-6663)
- The museum is open seven days a week, with shorter hours in the winter months.
- Translations of museum exhibits are in six languages.
- Admission is approximately $5 US.
- Wear a big hat and sunglasses if you don’t want to be recognized entering and exiting the museum.