Standing in a room surrounded by rows and rows of pickled penises I immediately realise that the Icelandic Phallological Museum is not what I was expecting. Truth be told, with the slogan ‘No place for pussies’ I was half expecting it to be a shrine to phallocentrism and filled with people nudging each other while pointing and giggling.
Thankfully, the Icelandic Phallological Museum is something far better. It is a museum in the truest sense: educating visitors about something fascinating and relatively unknown.
When Sigurður Hjartarson, the founder of the museum, received a whale penis in 1974 from local whalers in Akranas, no one could have imagined what it would grow into. The collection grew slowly at first, but by 1980 Sigurður had 13 examples of animal phalluses, and by 1990 the collection had jumped to 34. By the time that the museum opened for the first time in 1997, it featured a collection of 62.
The new Icelandic Phallological Museum opened in 2011 and features more than 200 phalluses from a wide variety of animals – most of which look very unpenislike and would probably be unrecognizable to anyone who wasn’t a penis expert!
Most of the penises are carefully preserved in formalin and grouped together on shelves that wouldn’t look amiss in a Victorian museum.
The museum is proud of it collections, but there is a conspicuous absence of human penises on display. But the Final Member, as the museum calls it, is on its way. So far several men have willed the museum their penises.
This is not to say that there aren’t plenty of human inspired examples on display. The museum has a small section devoted to the penis in folklore, culture and mythology. There are even the penis casts of the Icelandic Olympic Handball Team which I suppose counts as the penis in sport?
For those looking for a little more risqué penis fun there is even a token ‘dirty jokes’ section. These are kept in a tiny box with a material cover. However far from being graphic pornographic penises, they look like the type of novelty jokes that your 14-year brother would think is the funniest thing in the world. In fact the only place where there was any actual penis humour on display was in the gift shop.
The Icelandic Phallological Museum is a fascinating place devoted to something that is rarely spoken about. But by demystifying the penis, it has turned something that you would expect to have blacked out windows and red lights into a family friendly museum and a must see museum for any traveller to Iceland!