The Museum of Sex collects and preserves art and artifacts that support its mission to present the history, evolution and cultural significance of human sexuality.
The museum’s library primarily supports the work of its researchers and curators by maintaining a collection of books ranging from historically significant works to recently published art, fiction and Sexology texts.
Sex and sexuality have been subjects of exploration since the development of moving picture and film technology in the mid-1800s. Sexual imagery in films, from mainstream studio releases to illicit “stags” and modern pornography, reflect and shape sexual attitudes and behaviors of their time. The museum maintains an extensive collection of media including 8mm, Super 8mm, 16mm, BETA, VHS, and DVDs.
The Permanent Collection consists of over 15,000 objects, including works of art, photography, clothing and costumes, technological inventions and historical ephemera. The museum continues to acquire artifacts related to upcoming exhibitions, or that complement its existing collections of Japanese Shunga prints, vintage condoms, vibrators and men’s magazines.
Artifacts and Donations include:
The Lannan Foundation’s Art Program is designed to support the creativity of exceptional contemporary artists, foster serious criticism and discussion of contemporary art, and bring new and experimental works of art to a wide audience. The foundation, based in New Mexico, donated nineteen pieces, including works by William Fielding, Miles Forst, Gerald Gooch, Scott Miller, Milo Riece, Anita Steckel, T. Verries and Louis Renzoni, to the museum in May of 2000.
RALPH WHITTINGTON COLLECTION
Ralph Whittington, a retired librarian at the Library of Congress, has been collecting pornography since the 1970s. Ralph traces his lifelong interest in the subject to the discovery of a pocket-sized magazine, chanced upon during a trip to Baltimore when he was in the second grade. Consisting of films, videos, magazines, books and related paraphernalia, this collection provides an extensive record of the adult industry over the past three decades.
The Harmony Theatre, previously known as the Melody Burlesk, featured exotic dancing that combined golden era burlesque with more sexually explicit routines from its Times Square location. One of the longest-running strip establishments in the area, the Harmony was famous for often featuring porn stars as performers. A number of artifacts from the theatre, including promotional signs, costumes and photographs are housed in the museum.