Undress Your Mind: The Institute of Sexology


By Jade Burnett

During the third year of my degree, when I stumble across this myth they call ‘spare time’, I try to take advantage of studying in Greenwich and see what London has to offer (for free of course). A few weeks ago I visited The Institute of Sexology at Wellcome Collection in Euston, and if you have a few hours to spare I would definitely recommend dropping in. The exhibition is open until 20th September 2015.


The exhibition displays amusing objects from sex-boxes and homemade sex machines (accompanied by pictures of their proud owners) to film footage of thought provoking discussions regarding sexuality. This collection is guaranteed to make you laugh, and gasp, whilst exposing sexual violence and prejudice that will shock you.  In its brilliance, it exposes the darker side of societal anxieties regarding sexuality whilst being paired with an excellent balance of humour.


The title of the exhibition was derived from Sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld’s Institute of Sexual research in Germany. Although it thrived in 1920’s Berlin, it was destroyed by Nazis who obliterated and burned the library of archives. This 21st century reworking of the exhibition revives the study from the ashes of Nazi flames and pays homage to the Institute and Hirschfeld’s work. At no expense, this exhibition lets us delve into the study of sex, providing artefacts from centuries of research into the most primal of human behaviour. The centre extends out a bold invitation to engage with the ever changing approaches towards sex over time.


They display over 200 photographs, pieces of artwork, and archival materials. Through these, the space takes us on a journey from ancient fertility symbols to the Victorian obsession with hysteria— which equated woman’s sexuality with insanity and scandal.


Feed your curiosity at the Wellcome collection, trademarked as “the free destination for the incurably curious”. It has generated a lot of interest, so utilise your flexibility as a student and visit during off peak times. It will prevent being squashed between crowds of people avoiding awkward eye contact through a glass display of archaic sex toys.