The Icelandic Phallological Museum

“Ooooh mate, it’s a crook one”, I heard the nearby bloke say (in a distinctly Australian accent), as he and his mate looked at the only “human exhibit” in the Phallological Museum of Iceland, or as I like to call it, “The Dick Museum”. The look on their faces said it all. It did look a bit “crook”. You could be forgiven for thinking the shrivelled lump of white flesh in the container was anything but a penis. “Is that how mine’s going to look when I get older?”, I thought to myself. Probably not, I quickly realised, as the penis donor was quite an exceptional man. If you look inside a covered box not far from the preserved specimen, there’s a plaster cast of the penis of the former owner made when he was younger. To say he was a “gifted” young man (of extreme proportions) is an understatement. I’ve since read on-line there was a problem in the preserving process causing a significant reduction in size. There are also photographs of the donor as as a young man. He was quite an attractive bloke (very cute), and apparently very popular with the ladies. Not long before his death (aged in his nineties) he donated his genitals to the museum. Several other blokes who are still alive have promised to do the same. You can read about them and even see a model of what they intend to leave behind when they’re gone.

I’d walked past the entrance to the museum on several occasions before entering. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to visit, or if it would be a waste of money. The museum made headlines around the world when it opened a couple of years ago in a small town in the north of Iceland. As I entered the museum there was only one other person viewing the exhibition. By the time I left, there were maybe twenty or thirty others. There were definitely more people viewing this, than I’d seen at the national gallery earlier in the day.

As you enter, you’re given an exhibition catalogue which documents all of the specimens on display. As you might expect from Iceland, there are lots of sea creatures, including dolphins and whales. But there’s also lots of land animals, including my favourite the reindeer penis. When I say “favourite” I don’t mean that in a creepy kind of way. I just thought it looked “attractive” compared with the other lumps of preserved flesh in the exhibition. After a while, though, it does become a little much looking at all of that preserved flesh. “You’ve seen one preserved animal penis, you’ve seen em all”, was the thought going through my mind after a while. Thankfully, the exhibition (which began as a hobby collection by the owner) contains a lot of humour. There were lots of moments when I laughed out loud, particularly as the exhibit contains examples of a lot of penis-inspired art. My favourite example of this was a work inspired by the Icelandic Handball Team. In front of a team photograph taken at the Beijing Olympic Games, there were fifteen different penises (one for each member of the team) of varying shapes and sizes. From the way they were arranged, you could be forgiven for thinking members of the team had actually posed for the work. Unfortunately not, though it wouldn’t surprise me if they did.

The people of Iceland seem quite relaxed about the human body, compared with those of us brought up in English speaking countries. We tend to see the human body as shameful. This museum turns that idea on its head (so to speak) and is well worth the 1,000 ISK (twelve to thirteen dollars Australian) entry fee. Lots of fun, and actually probably a bit odd.

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