Vagina Museum reopens with the history of periods

The Vagina Museum team Florence Schechter, Zoe Williams, Sarah Creed 

The Vagina Museum team Florence Schechter, Zoe Williams, Sarah Creed - Credit: Angus Young

Camden market's Vagina Museums reopens this month with its second exhibition on the history of menstruation.

The museum opened in Stables Market in November 2019 with an inaugural display about vagina myths - 'Muff Busters' - which drew more than 110,000 visitors.

Closed for much of 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, the world's first bricks and mortar museum dedicated to vaginas and gynaecological anatomy opens its doors once again on May 21.

Sponsored by The Body Shop, Periods: A Brief History aims to bust the "veil of shame" and taboo that exists around menstruation. It ranges from historic perceptions and beliefs dating from Ancient Greece to the present day, to what people used before the invention of tampons and sanitary pads, to looking at how period shame has been impacted by culture, religion and a lack of understanding about what the monthly bleed actually is. Other issues include whether it is possible to have an environmentally sustainable period.

The Vagina Museum

Debut exhibition Muff Busters tackled myths around vaginas and drew more than 110,000 visitors - Credit: Angus Young

Vagina Museum director Florence Schechter said: “I've been thrilled with the hugely positive welcome the Vagina Museum has received since we opened in 2019. People from all walks of life and around the world have been sharing with us that they've learned something they never knew before and feel much more positive about vaginas and vulvas. We've smashed every target we set ourselves in terms of visitor numbers. When I started this project I thought the world needed a Vagina Museum and now we're starting to see the impact, I think I was right."

Museum curator Sarah Creed added: “It is more pertinent now, more than ever, to be focussing on periods - menstrual health activism is growing throughout the world, and the UK is no exception. There are some amazing campaigns happening from Free Periods getting access to free menstrual products in all schools and colleges, to other charities such as Bloody Good Period, Red Box Project and Tricky Period creating grassroots movements to raise awareness about the issues surrounding access to menstrual products and menstrual health. But where has this all originated from? Why is there still a lack of understanding in the general population about what a period actually is? We hope to investigate this by tracking how menstruation has been perceived and dealt with throughout history, tapping into some of the hundreds of theories and societal beliefs that still reverberate in discussions to this day.”