If you want to learn more about the penis, there is a whole museum in Iceland dedicated to the subject. If you want to learn more about the vagina, there really hasn’t been anything comparable – until now. Or, to be more precise, until November 16. On that day, the Vagina Museum will open its doors in the London Borough of Camden. We interviewed the Development and Marketing Manager of the museum, Zoe Williams, to learn more about the genesis of this project and the team’s plans for the future of the museum.
This November, the world’s first Vagina Museum will open its doors for the public. Why should everybody who visits London’s Camden Market also stop by your museum?
Zoe Williams: The Vagina Museum is a world first – the very first bricks and mortar museum dedicated to vaginas, vulvas, and the gynaecological anatomy. To visit us in our early stages, you’ll be participating in a little slice of history! As well as our Muff Busters exhibition, you’ll be able to buy a souvenir like no other at our gift shop and attend empowering and educational events.
How did you come up with the idea of creating a museum dedicated to vaginas?
First of all, there’s a penis museum in Iceland, but there is no equivalent for vaginas anywhere in the world. The only solution to this is to make one! There’s a lot of silence and shame around the vagina, and we want to open our doors to show the world there’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Even though the museum will open this fall, the project actually started in 2017 with pop ups around the UK at exhibitions and events. How did you get from there to actually opening a brick and mortar museum and what were the biggest challenges along the way?
In March this year, we decided to crowdfund to get a home for the Vagina Museum. Through this, we raised an incredible £50,000. We were overwhelmed by the support and positivity we received from all around the world, and even though we fell short of our target, we raised enough for our first home. But this is just a beginning: our goal is to find our permanent home with the world’s largest collection by 2030!
Collection, preservation, displaying, education: Museums have many functions. What are the main goals you have for the Vagina Museum and why are they important to you?
Our biggest goal is to raise and spread awareness of the gynaecological anatomy and health. Too many people with vaginas don’t know enough about their own anatomy, and this silence can literally kill. We want to act as a space where we can have these conversations and act as a forum for feminism, women’s rights, the LGBT+ community and the intersex community. We’re here to challenge the climate which makes people ashamed of vaginas and the gynaecological anatomy!
“Our biggest goal is to raise and spread awareness of the gynaecological anatomy and health.”
You state a number of goals for this project. How do you want to achieve them within the means of a museum?
A museum is a physical space where we can bring people together. It’s a tangible place where anyone can discover something new.
The first exhibition will be titled “Muff Busters: Vagina Myths and How To Fight Them”. What will be shown in this exhibition?
Muff Busters: Vagina Myths and How to Fight Them will look at pervasive myths and misconceptions about vaginas, vulvas and the gynaecological anatomy. We’ll be looking at myths about cleanliness, sex, pregnancy and childbirth, displaying objects relating to those myths, and educating to debunk them!
Besides the exhibition, which other kinds of events will draw visitors into the museum?
As well as the exhibition, we have a wide range of diverse events including educational talks, lectures, comedy, plays, and even crafting workshops to create vulva art.
What are your plans for the next exhibitions in the Vagina Museum and the project in general?
Our lips are sealed about our next exhibitions, but we’ll reveal all soon: they’re going to be very exciting! Our plan over the next few years is to grow and expand: We’re starting out small, but this is just the start.
After somebody visited the Vagina Museum, what should be the most important lesson they have learned or experienced there?
Everyone is going to take something different home from the Vagina Museum. Some people might feel challenged, some feel really positive, and some enlightened. What we want is for everyone to come out of our museum feeling something new and different.