Vagina Museum, Camden Market
- Credit: Archant
One of the final taboos could be broken if curators can raise £300,000 to open the world’s first bricks and mortar exhibition space around gynaecological anatomy
One of the final taboos could be broken if curators can raise £300,000 to open the world’s first permanent vagina museum in Camden market.
An informal agreement has been reached with market owners on a lease for the museum, which could host exhibitons, events and an outreach programme by November.
Founder and Belsize Park resident Florence Schechter says the museum’s messages will include healthy and inclusive sex, lobbying medics to improve services, and supporting the trans and intersex communities.
Once opened it will host talks, panels, workshops, comedy nights, performances and exhibitions around gynaecological anatomy - borrowing items from other collections which have “often relegated objects around vaginas and vulvas to the backs of cupboards because they are deemed too controversial”.
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“We need to raise money to pay staff and rent,” she said.
“Camden Market is a good fit because this project is revolutionary. There is a penis museum in Iceland but as yet no bricks and mortar Vagina museum, and there should be one.”
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The 27-year-old, who has a background in biochemistry says the project will marry scientific research with the arts, with one idea to show the history and invention of period products, and another to host a vagina art exhibition.
“Health will be a big part of it,” she adds.
“The Vagina is just a body part and we should be able to treat it as such without all this stigma and shame about it - so many women feel embarrassed, or ugly down there, yet this is a body part that we use for such deeply personal things like having sex or babies.”
Schechter believes the #Metoo movement has triggered a “fourth wave of feminism,” and paved the way for projects like the museum.
“Our main goal is to destigmatise vaginas. The time is now, but there are still a lot of people who aren’t ready, if they were it would have been too late.”
The project has earned widespred support, from The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists to Camden Council leader Georgia Gould and stars like Sara Pascoe who hailed it as: “replacing shame with art, replacing mystery with inspiration and conversation.”
Gould added that the stigma around vaginias has led to “ignorance, confusion, shame and poor medical care for too many”.
She cited a poll which found almost half of 18-24-year-old women are too embarrassed to talk about sexual health issues.
Schechter has written for podcasts, and TV documentaries mostly around animal sex and says: “It’s very enlightening, From research I discovered that there is a scientific bias against animal vaginas, people much prefer to study animal penises.”
The crowdfunding campaign which went live on March 21, arose because she was turned down by other funders.
“Some big donors and government backed funding bodies won’t back anything sex-related. If I had wanted to open an art museum, it would have been so much easier, but this is an inclusive and intersectional project by the people, for the people so we are going to the people to fund it.”