While Iceland has been home to a museum dedicated to the penis for nearly three decades, the Vagina Museum in London is much more recent. And, although it only started out in 2017, this establishment celebrating the female reproductive system has now closed its doors and faces an uncertain future.
On January 30, the Vagina Museum announced on Twitter that it had been given notice to leave the premises it has occupied since last year in Bethnal Green, East London.
“We’ve always been aware that we may be asked to leave with very short notice. We’re disappointed that it has come so soon,” the museum explained on the social network.
As a result, the museum closed its doors to the public on Wednesday, February 1, while waiting to find a new location.
This isn’t the first time that the Vagina Museum has had to change locations since starting out in 2017.
It had established itself in North London’s famous Camden Market in 2019, after having previously existed for two years in the form of a series of pop-up events at venues such as the Royal Institution, the Feminist Library and the Freud Museum. According to The Art Newspaper, the Vagina Museum had to move to 18 Victoria Park Square in Bethnal Green in March 2022 after the owners of the Camden Market space refused to renew its lease.
The Vagina Museum welcomed more than 40,000 visitors to its Bethnal Green location. They were able to discover exhibitions such as “From A to V,” analyzing gynecological anatomy from different perspectives, and “Periods: A Brief History,” addressing menstruation head-on. These exhibitions are a testament to the Vagina Museum’s mission: to talk about vaginas, vulvas, clitorises, uteruses and menstrual cycles openly and honestly.
Female genitalia are still subject to (too) many taboos and societal stigmas. For the Vagina Museum, it is essential to deconstruct them within institutions that are well established.
“The museum is too important to give up on. It’s a museum that means a lot to people. It’s a vital education service. In parts of the online world, and in many places around the world, you can’t even say the word ‘vagina,'” according to Florence Schechter, the director of the museum, in an interview with the Evening Standard via The Art Newspaper.
The Vagina Museum is currently looking for new premises in London ready to house the museum. Its amazing collection of objects and artifacts will be kept in a warehouse during this transitional period.
An appeal for donations has been launched on social networks to help secure the future of the Vagina Museum.
“We’ve made it through a pandemic and a period of temporary homelessness before. With you, together, we can make it through this too,” the museum said in a statement on Twitter.