I cannot believe it was a year ago that I was in Iceland, land of trolls and Yule Lads, and kleina, donut-like pastries, twisted and fried, and so subtly sweet that one must devour two in rapid succession to properly suss out what one is tasting. Oh, and also: a penis museum.
Why, one might be inclined to ask, would you Sarah, of all people, wish to visit this particular establishment, this veritable shrine to the dingle-dongle? Aren’t you the woman who has been insisting that “men are pigs from hell” ever since she was 17 years old? Why then, would you feel compelled to spend your time in a museum dedicated to the preservation and display of the infernal porcine (& other species) members?
That is an excellent question for which, I am afraid, I have no good answer. I have a deep appreciation for the weird and the bizarre, though, so I suspect that a chance to see something kind of strange trumps any sort of misandry I may harbor.
The Icelandic Phallological Museum located in Reykjavík, houses the world’s largest display of penises and penile parts. Founded in 1997 by retired teacher Sigurður Hjartarson and now run by his son Hjörtur Gísli Sigurðsson,the museum contains a collection of 280 specimens from 93 species of animals includes 55 penises taken from whales, 36 from seals and 118 from land mammals, allegedly including Huldufólk (Icelandic elves) and trolls. Of course, as Icelandic folklore portrays such creatures as being invisible, these cannot be seen! According to its mission statement, the museum aims to enable “individuals to undertake serious study into the field of phallology in an organized, scientific fashion.”
In July 2011, the museum obtained its first human penis, one of four promised by would-be donors. Its detachment from the donor’s body did not go according to plan and it was reduced to a greyish-brown shrivelled mass pickled in a jar of formalin. The museum continues to search for “a younger and a bigger and better one.” There is even a Canadian documentary film called The Final Member, which covers the museum’s quest to obtain a human penis.
As I recall, it seemed a rather small place, on a street corner that I almost walked straight past. This could also be due to the fact that I don’t read Icelandic (yet) and I couldn’t read the sign. Despite its tiny appearance, however, the place was packed with displays and wall mounts and shelves upon shelves of all the junk you could ever hope to see. There was even functional art based on that pokey portion of the male anatomy – penis and scrotum lamps, door handles, and a telephone! And of course, a gift shop when you can purchase coffee cups, key chains, and all manner of willy-related tschotchkes to commemorate your visitation to the pecker palace.
We probably toured the entire place in a half an hour’s time, but this is one of the occasions where upon the memory of the experience is better than the actual experience – not that it wasn’t a bit of fun, mind you, but it was just sort of an in-out visit (pun intended because I can’t help myself) and there wasn’t very much exploring to do. And I suppose it was sort of a consolation prize, as I had actually been hoping to go to the Icelandic Museum of Witchcraft and Sorcery…but I couldn’t interest anyone in the 3 hour trip to Hólmavík for that. I would, however, definitely recommend a stop by this weird little museum, as part of your Icelandic experience.