The wait is finally over. After two and a half years, three pop-up exhibitions and a £50,000 crowdfunding campaign, the Vagina Museum is finally opening the doors to its permanent home. Situated in London’s Camden Market, it’s the world’s first physical museum space dedicated to vulvas, vaginas and all things gynaecological.
Although pre-launch events have been taking place at the museum’s premises since 5th October, its official opening is marked by the launch of its taboo-busting exhibition, Muff Busters: Vagina Myths and How to Fight Them. We had a sneak preview to find out what you can expect.
At first glance, the museum and its inaugural exhibition might not look like much – a relatively small space lined with colourful information panels, and not much in the way of traditional museum objects and artefacts. Despite the glittery tampon in the corner, which immediately grabs your eye, the exhibition doesn’t ooze the same fun and playfulness as many of the Vagina Museum’s fundraising and pre-launch events, which have ranged from comedy nights and pub quizzes to vulva arts and crafts.
But don’t let its slightly sparse appearance fool you; this exhibition packs a much-needed educational punch. Tackling myths about anatomy, sex and contraception, gender, periods, virginity, discharge, pubic hair and feminine hygiene products, Muff Busters lays out the Vagina Museum’s stall, making the case for its own existence and contributing to vital conversations around gynaecological health.
“We really wanted to start with the basics. If our aim is to destigmatise the anatomy, we need to make sure everyone knows the basics before we delve into more complicated issues,” Vagina Museum founder Florence Schechter tells Refinery29. “It’s about laying the groundwork and talking about why this museum is so needed. These myths have terrible consequences, and they’re really hurting people.”
For all the fun of crocheting a clitoris or taking selfies with a giant glittery tampon, this is the serious message at the Vagina Museum’s core. It exists against a backdrop of health inequalities and stigma, in a culture where vaginas and periods are still seen as dirty and shameful, and health issues that predominantly affect women are underfunded and poorly understood by medical science.