The Museum of Sex opened in 2002, in New York City, with the mission of preserving and presenting the history, evolution and cultural significance of human sexuality. The Museum has collaborated with artists, academics and institutions from around the world to showcase an exploration of sexuality throughout the arts, sciences and humanities. Alongside a myriad of exhibitions and interactive programs always on offer and rotation, the Museum’s permanent collection is comprised of some 20,000 sexually significant artifacts.
THE INCOMPLETE ARAKI: SEX, LIFE AND DEATH IN THE WORKS OF NOBUYOSHI ARAKI
Known for his photography "that blends eroticism and bondage in a fine art context", with over 400 books published, this exhibition is the first major retrospective in the United States to showcase the career of the prolific Nobuyoshi Araki. The photographer has worked for nearly 50 years to challenge the role of intimacy in photography, with a commitment to the idea that it should be immediate, unflinching and deeply personal in exposing the vulnerability of love and loss. On view are over 400 books, 150 prints and 500 Polaroids that explore the concepts of obsession, ritual, kinbaku-bi, sentimentality, controversy and the relationship between the photographer and the subject.
CELESTIAL BODIES: THE COUPLES VIRTUAL REALITY EXPERIENCE
An immersive room-scale virtual reality installation that explores anticipation, sexual attraction, identity, presence, touch, scale, comfort, daring and spatial awareness. Outfitted with a virtual reality headset and Optitrack motion sensors, visitors are encouraged to move freely within the controlled environment, making user movement and active participation an integral part of the experience. With up to 6 visitors at any one time within the 1,000 square foot space that also features live performers, haptic elements and three-dimensional sounds, the Celestial Bodies installation traverses the line between physical reality and a virtual simulation.
NSFW: FEMALE GAZE
Co-created by VICE Media's Creators, NSFW: Female Gaze showcases over 25 emerging female artists and their work dedicated to powerful feminine narratives through a variety of mediums. The exhibited works aim to both reclaim and break out of the traditional female role as muse and object, showcasing a new fearless visual language of desire that breaks social expectations. With a wide range of artistic disciplines on display, these works highlight a diverse and fearless approach to sex, shattering mythologies of female sexuality and restructuring stereotypes to explore a more complex relationship between gender, pleasure, fantasy and desire. Each artist presented in the exhibition works at the intersection of identity, artistic genre and process and life experience - exploring sexuality on their own terms, bringing it light from new angles of expression.
THE SEX LIVES OF ANIMALS
With life-sized animal sculptured created by Rune Olsen and commissioned by The Museum of Sex, The Sex Lives of Animals presents an exhibition exploring the most intimate part of the natural life cycle. Moving animal sexuality beyond the confines of reproduction and mating, towards discussions of orientation and cognition, this exhibition showcases that animals participate in an astonishing array of sexual behaviors that might have otherwise been thought of as exclusive to humans. Interestingly, Olsen’s animal sculptures all incorporate anatomically-incorrect, human, glass eyes, which further juxtapose the shared instincts and urges of humans and animals.
OBJECT XXX: SELECTED ARTIFACTS FROM THE MUSEUM OF SEX ARCHIVE
Embedded with their own narratives, history and significance, objects are symbolic creations of various eras, belief systems and, at times, manifestations against societal taboos. While some of the objects presented in this exhibition are creations of fantasy and a desire to augment attraction and pleasure, others have medicalised origins, pop cultural resonance or represent personal legacies. Here, mementos and ephemera of the past mix alongside contemporary representations of how technology is fueling a new terrain of devices, highlighting a range of objectives and innovations surrounding sexuality. The featured artifacts in OBJECTXXX: Selected Artifacts from the Museum of Sex Archive speak to the depth and diversity of artifacts that exist in the Museum of Sex’s permanent collection of nearly 20,000 items.
NIGHT FEVER: NEW YORK DISCO 1977-1979, THE BILL BERNSTEIN PHOTOGRAPHS
This exhibition explores the sexually and socially radical multiculturalism embraced by the New York disco clubs of the late ‘70s through the lens of Bill Bernstein. An assemblage of 40 photographs from Bill Bernstein, taken from 1977 to 1979, accompanied by audio interviews, in an immersive installation that invites viewers to experience the freedom and intoxication of the disco era. The unique context of the highlighted clubs allowed for unprecedented interaction between groups — straights danced with gays, whites with blacks and Latinos, young with old, and rich with poor. By publicly embracing alternate and previously hidden identities, these pioneers created revolutionary boundary-crossing communities of possibility and joy, paving the way for a future culture of inclusivity. Night Fever is an immersive experience, designed as a pop-up disco complete with an original Richard Long Audio System along with guest appearances by disco-era DJs. A fully operating bar alsooffers a retro ‘70s cocktail menu.
JUMP FOR JOY: BOUNCY CASTLE OF BREASTS
Jump For Joy is an installation by Bompas and Parr designed to increase awareness of the body and to create the thrilling possibility of physical contact between strangers. The concept is geared to heighten perception of the physicality of the gallery and visitor. Originally created for the Museum of Sex exhibition, Funland: Pleasures & Perils of the Erotic Fairground, created in collaboration with the National Fairground Archive with soundtrack by Dom James, Jump for Joy is an interactive installation which embodies the cultural context and history of fairground eroticism.
The Museum of Sex is located at:
233 Fifth Avenue (at 27th Street)
New York, NY 10016
(212) 689 6337
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Images and information for this article provided courtesy of The Museum of Sex, NYC.