In keeping with its location in the Pigalle area - well known for its sex shops and Moulin Rouge cabaret - this museum ... More
Museum of Eroticism
In keeping with its location in the Pigalle area - well known for its sex shops and Moulin Rouge cabaret - this museum devoted to erotic art has over 2000 sculptures, paintings and objets d'art from all over the world. As well as the permanent exhibition, temporary exhibitions of contemporary art and private collections are organized on a regular basis. The museum is also open at night.
I visited the Musee de l'Erotisme earlier this month with a good friend. I think it's relevant disclosure that both of us are avid fans of both art and sex politics and were looking forward to how the French, who have given us Foucault and the Marquis de Sade, would present sex-related artifacts within an historical, religious, political, so on context. What we got was an incredibly disappointing semblance of a museum that looked like a garage-sale sporadically supplemented by amateur commentary.
While the Musee de l'Erotisme clearly has an incredible collection of artifacts relevant to very many cultures and people, the presentation was appalling, and the level of critical analysis was even worse. Artifacts with dubious connection overflow their casing (you leave part of your collection in storage and put them out according to their exhibitorial relevance!) and a short, incredibly generalised and often false or at least problematic description of one of the artifacts will sit amidst 5 or 6 artifacts. Which one is it describing?
Oftentimes one commentary would negate another in the same casing! In one casing with various Greek artifacts, one commentary explains that the ancient Greeks (all of them?) were prudish and reserved about sex. Meanwhile, the next commentary explains that they were without restraint or restriction. Which one is it? Well, to a classicist the answer would be neither, as it is not that the peoples of the ancient Greek city-state had more or less sexual mores than say contemporary Parisians, but that their sexualities were conceptualized somewhat differently. Though, at its core, not so differently.
Many of the artifacts didn't even relate to sex. Breastfeeding and people simply being naked does not necessarily constitute an erotic experience. However, those who assembled the displays seemed to think they did, but provided zero rationale for why.
All in all, it's this analysis that made the Musee de l'Erotisme so disappointing. After all, museums are not just giant houses that store really old stuff, they are institutions that provide a gateway into another perspective on what it means to be a human on earth. A museum with such a collection paired with academic analysis would seriously challenge modern western conceptions of a "healthy, normal sexuality." I would highly recommend that the owners hire skilled academics of sexuality and a proper curator and undergo serious renovation and reorganization for at least a year. If not then I think the city of Paris ought to confiscate the artifacts and install them in a more reputable museum.
there is nothing in the entire museum deserving to be called 'erotic'. a countless number of 'funny' looking figures with overlifesized penisses etc. little information on the exhibits. dont waste your time and money!
We just visited the museum and found the displays to be fascinating. It does demonstrate that sex, and interest in it, is a universal condition.
In addition to all the great displays, we found an 'interactive' performance on the fifth floor to be incredibly exciting and enjoyable.
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