Iceland offers surprising and strange places to visit, including quirky museum exhibitions. For example, the so-called Penis Museum, or the Icelandic Phallus Museum, can be discovered in its capital of Reykjavík and enjoys great interest from locals and tourists alike.
Although the Vagina museum was recently opened in London, it is still the only museum in the world, which contains a collection of phallic specimens belonging to different mammal species found under one roof.
What the Phallus Museum offers
The museum contains about 300 exhibits on the sexual organs of whales, walruses, dolphins, mice, bears, seals, and other animals. These include fifty-six specimens of seventeen different species of whale, one specimen of the polar bear, thirty-six specimens of seven different species of seal and walrus, and one hundred and fifteen specimens of twenty different species of land mammals. Over 90 species of animals inhabiting Iceland are represented. Penises of humans and mythical creatures complete the collection.
The museum’s history
The owner of the museum is Sigurður Hjartarsson, now an 80-year-old history teacher. As a child, Sigurður was sent on holidays to his local village and given a penis from a bull to use as a whip for the animals. In the 1970s, he became headmaster of a school. Some of the teachers at his school worked at a whale station during the holidays and gradually started bringing him whale penises as gifts to make jokes.
He then got the idea to show them to a wider audience, and to expand the collection through exhibits of all kinds of animals that inhabit Iceland. The penis museum was opened in Reykjavik in 1974. When 34 penises were collected in the 1990s, the museum was opened in Reykjavik. It was subsequently moved to the village of Húsavík, known as Europe’s whale-watching capital, but was returned to Reykjavik in 2011. The museum’s curator is Sigurður Hjartarsson’s son, Hjörtur.
The largest and most impressive specimen in the museum is of a sperm whale and measures 170 cm – 70 cm in shell size. It is estimated that the entire penis weighed about 400 kg and was 5 m long, with the sperm whale itself weighing about 50 tons. The museum displays art installations and memorabilia in the shape of penises. There are specimens of folklore creatures such as elves and trolls.
The Phallological museum’s specimens
The specimens were collected from slaughterhouses and farms, with farmers sending the specimens themselves. At the museum, they are stored in several ways: in formaldehyde tubes or beakers, dried and hung on the walls, or “dressed” on sticks and canes.
The human penis belonged to a 95-year-old Icelandic man. He was famous for being a great womanizer and decided to immortalize his organ by donating it to the museum. In 2011, the donor died and the museum then got its first exhibit of a human penis.
To date, three other would-be donors have expressed a desire to one day be represented at the museum. However, a donation from a gifted New Yorker whose phenomenal 34.3-centimeter sexual appendage /24.1 centimeters when flaccid will be on display at the museum after his death is also currently planned.
The reception of the collection has been surprisingly positive: more than 100 articles showcase it in nearly 30 countries around the world, and the number of visitors is steadily growing – it is claimed that more than 14,000 tourists, mainly from abroad, are attracted by the exhibit annually.
Want to visit Iceland but don’t know where to start? Why not check out our Guided Tours for some inspiration!