The WHAT museum?!

I’m always thinking of you, my loyal readers. A few  of you have asked me to do a visit/report on one particular place in Iceland. Given the amount of stupid comments that this place gets on the visitors book on its own website, I’m a little nervous about this post…yes, I visited the world’s only Penis Museum on your behalf.

The Icelandic Phallological Museum was based in Reykjavík for many years but moved up to Húsavík in northern Iceland for a few years. At the end of 2011, it returned to Reykjavík and as I constantly found myself walking past it I had no excuse not to visit on my last trip even though it really isn’t my cup of tea. It also happens to be one of the few things open in the city on a Sunday morning!

I had a to do a go around the first time I was going to go in as there was some weird man smoking outside who I didn’t like the look of. I had the feeling he was working there and there were probably no other visitors and basically I just didn’t want to deal with him. It’s hard work being me sometimes! When I did go in, he wasn’t an employee there as I had feared and in fact I should probably mention that the man working there was very nice and knowledgeable and probably sick to death of hearing a chorus of sniggering tourists all day.

No, I don't get why either...

So, what is the museum like? It’s not huge, but there really are a lot of specimens there. You are given a catalogue which not only tells you what everything is but the circumstances in which they received it, along the lines of: “Narwhal: A young adult, hunted off the coast of East-Greenland in October 2000. Length of tooth ca. 120 cm. In formalin.” (I’ve just noticed the catalogue is on their website!) Sometimes there were also photos of the actual animal the “exhibit” is from. Really, I found all of that bit quite interesting.

The smaller animal section

What I wasn’t so keen on were the actual “exhibits”. There was a huge range in sizes, shapes, etc. I actually felt a bit queasy at times, a bit like when we went to the Bodyworlds exhibit and I thought I might throw up. Something about knowing these really came off of living creatures and weren’t just models makes me feel ill.

Some kind of whale I think...there were only so many photos and notes I wanted to take at this point.

Yes, there were human ones too. In fact, I think some of the donors are still alive from reading their information so who knows how that happened. At least they have donated by choice I suppose, unlike the poor animals! You can read about one of the human donors here.

Some other kind of get the idea

I don't know.

There were only a few other people there in couples and there was a general mix of either laughter or people making horrified noises. In either case, at least you can’t say it’s a boring museum.

In all seriousness, the curators obviously have put a lot of work into this and are doing their bit for scientific research. It’s a shame that probably most of the visitors that come in are coming for a bit of a laugh. I probably would have liked it more if I wasn’t quite so squeamish about medical things! Give it a try, it’s probably the only museum of its kind that you will ever visit.

Would you like to visit this place?


27 thoughts on “The WHAT museum?!

  1. Well done for writing and posting this. Not an easy thing to do I would imagine. I can’t say it would be on my top ten things to do, but interesting to know it exists. Thank you.

    • Ugh. I have to admit there’s a lot about Korean (and for that matter Japanese) culture that I find hard to “get” as a foreigner, probably because I know so little about it. I’m glad I wasn’t the only person in the museum, although it would have been more fun with someone else to talk to about it!

  2. Visit a Penis Museum? I’ve been to a penis extension museum, it’s called an American classic car show (I don’t say that like it’s bad thing, I would want a nice car myself). I don’t think I would ever venture to the real thing, though. The thought of it being disconnected from my body (while I’m dead or alive) is a little too much for me.

    • Ha ha! Good point. I’d probably feel even more like a fish out of water at one of those car shows full of testosterone.

      I think people can either detach themselves from medical things (like watching operations on TV) or can’t – I definitely can’t. I like the idea of gruesome things but in real life I probably find too many things gruesome. I hope I never come across a car accident.

  3. Since the donors are dead, they probably don’t care. It’s weird enough to visit if for no other reason than to say that I did. Do the sell t-shirts that say “I’ve Been to the Penis Museum”?

    • They did have t-shirts! I didn’t look too closely. I can pick one up for you next time I go if you want to impress your friends. 😉

      I honestly think some of the human donors are living donors – or maybe I just didn’t read their information closely enough – but that was my impression from at least one description.

  4. Völsar? Never heard that word before… looked up völsi on and it came out as something quite different. Tried and the definition was hestreður (fornt/úrelt) – talk about specific! Icelandic is weird.

      • I learned most of my Icelandic outside of Iceland. It just takes genuine interest, time and hard work. I actually don’t think it’s that hard for native English speakers – definitely its difficulty is overrated.

  5. Hi, hi, Just found your blog. Our family…. my husband, myself and our two kids (4 & 6 at the time of the trip) visited Iceland last year for the first time and we went to the Penis Museum. It was my son’s favorite highlight to tell folks about….and we went to a bunch of the top sights:0)
    Interesting place, for sure. The kids were interested in it from a scientific point of view which made it an educational experience. It was nice that they had the XX rated stuff covered and off to one section.
    We are hooked on Iceland and looking to go back, maybe for the Christmas holiday. I don’t think we’ll go back to the Penis Museum, but I am glad we made it there on our first trip.
    Off to read more of your blog. Many Thanks!

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