Let’s Talk About the Museum of Sex

Museum of Sex New York

“Type. Swipe. Search. Upload. Download. Post. Stream. These are the new verbs of desire. Our most intimate thoughts, fantasies, and urges are now transmitted via electronic devices to rapt audiences all over the world.”        — The Museum of Sex

Bribery has been my strategy for getting people to come to museums with me: candy for the PEZ Museum, beer for the Trash Museum, hot dogs for the hunger museum, and go karts for bad art.

So for a trip to New York’s Museum of Sex, it was only natural to offer a… well, I’ll let you use your imagination on that one.

One of the exhibits, “Universe of Desire,” was based on data that showed that 13 percent of 400 million Internet searches were for erotic content. Who knew the Internet was used for porn?

It was a fascinating and disturbing exhibit that shared the results of the data coupled with a lot of very private media that people had willingly made public on the Internet. One display had boxes built with keyholes and when I peeped in, I saw a regular couple getting busy. Another display had a series of old-fashioned phones. I picked one up and listened in on a man’s sexual diary. I put down the phone feeling vaguely guilty. The exhibit had made a voyeur out of me, as all of us are when we surf the web and see glimpses of all of our lives.

I am someone who gets amazed by the oversharing I see among my own friends on Facebook, so this was eye-opening for me.

Panda bear sculpture at Museum of Sex

Another exhibit was about the sex lives of animals. By giving many examples from the animal kingdom of same-sex pairings, non-reproductive sex, and non-monogamous “monogamous” pairings, the exhibit questioned what is “normal” when it comes to human sexuality.

I thought I would feel squeamish at the museum, but it was a museum with a serious atmosphere like any other. At one point, though, I found myself in an empty area with only one strange man, and I quickly moved on over to a busy area. I probably wouldn’t have been creeped out by a similar situation at the Smithsonian, but who knows? The guy seemed pretty creepy.

P.S. I visited the museum after taking my trapeze class. A thrilling day in Manhattan!

101 things button #67 (101 things in 1001 days): Go to at least five offbeat or small museums.

  1. Bling at the PEZ Factory
  2. Seagulls and the Temple of Trash
  3. Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum
  4. Melancholy at the Museum of Bad Art
  5. Let’s Talk About the Museum of Sex

Melancholy at the Museum of Bad Art

Museum of Bad Art patrons

You know how The Rocky Horror Picture Show is so bad, it’s good? That’s the idea behind the Museum of Bad Art.

As I viewed the paintings and read the interpretive gallery notes, I heard occasional bursts of hearty laughter from other patrons who were tickled by the exhibit.

The whole place, though, gave me a different feeling. Sure, some of the artists made questionable artistic choices, or gave a nude woman a questionable number of fingers, but these artists had clearly infused their paintings with their earnest attempts to create something interesting.

Museum of Bad Art collage of 3 paintings

That in fact is one of the criteria for inclusion; there is no art here that is bad on purpose.

Some of the paintings had been found abandoned in the trash or at tag sales, while some had been donated by the artists themselves after they had presumably gained greater sophistication.

I walked the basement space that seemed to be cluttered and dingy to add to its “Isn’t it awful?” vibe, and I felt like I was the only observer who didn’t think it was all hilarious.

I thought some of the bad art was quite good, a pop of color here, a vivid smile there, a creative twist on a classic painting or photograph. I felt like I did as a child when I grieved for the abandoned creations on the Island of Misfit Toys. So what if a bird swims instead of flies? Ever hear of a penguin?

Museum of Bad Art

These artists took color and texture and light and made something new. Their paintings may spend most of their lives being laughed at, but from me they got a bit of respect.

Here’s to art, good or bad. It sure beats a kick in the head.

Randy at Museum of Bad Art

The Museum of Bad Art is housed in the basement of the Somerville Theatre in Somerville, Massachusetts. Admission is free with the purchase of a movie ticket.

P.S. I kept up my strategy of bribing family members to go to museums with me when, inexplicably, my husband didn’t want to travel three hours to see bad art. There were high-speed go karts in the area, though, to entice him to join me.

101 things button  #67 (101 things in 1001 days): Go to at least five offbeat or small museums.

  1. Bling at the PEZ Factory
  2. Seagulls and the Temple of Trash
  3. Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum
  4. Melancholy at the Museum of Bad Art
  5. Let’s Talk About the Museum of Sex

Related post: My art class experience (Is mediocre art worse than bad art? Probably.)

Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum

Hunger Museum Gwinnipiac University

I toured a new museum in Hamden, Connecticut, that is devoted to telling the story of the Great Hunger in Ireland.

One thing I didn’t know about the terrible famine in Ireland from 1845 to 1852 was that there was plenty of food being grown in Ireland. While one million Irish starved and two million more emigrated to other countries after a series of failed potato crops, plenty of food was being shipped out of the country for profit.

Another thing I learned was that the Choctaw Indian Nation, a Native American tribe, donated $170 to relief efforts, despite having just endured the “Trail of Tears” themselves.

The artwork in the museum explored this and other wrenching truths from this awful chapter of history.

Painting at museum

Black ’47 by Micheal Farrell at Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum (Quinnipiac University)

The museum has free admission: Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum

101 things button #67 (101 things in 1001 days): Go to at least five offbeat or small museums.

  1. Bling at the PEZ Factory
  2. Seagulls and the Temple of Trash
  3. Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum
  4. Melancholy at the Museum of Bad Art
  5. Let’s Talk About the Museum of Sex

P.S. I continued my strategy of offering bribes to entice family members to come to museums with me. I had promised candy for the PEZ Factory and beer for the Trash Museum. This time, we went out for hot dogs at the nearby Glenwood Diner, one of the famed spots on our Connecticut Hot Dog Tour.

Glenwood Diner Hamden CT

 

Seagulls and the Temple of Trash

The other day I shared the trick to getting my teenage son to come along to the Pez Museum with me: Promise him a bucket of candy.

Well, how did I get my husband to come along to the Trash Museum with me?

Promise him a bucket of beer.

Trash Museum

First, we searched for scavenger hunt items in the Temple of Trash. Note the seagull eerily poised above my family’s heads, a perfect reminder of childhood trips to the dump.

Trash Museum

Trash Museum, Hartford
So that’s where all those unwanted America Online discs ended up?

The museum, run by the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority, was well organized with information on reducing waste and recycling.

Trash Museum, Hartford

After touring the exhibits, we watched the trucks coming in and the recyclables being sorted from the mountain of debris.

City Steam, HartfordMuseum trip finished, we moved on to the rest of our afternoon, lunch at City Steam, a brew house and restaurant.

We picked up growlers for a haggis feast planned later that night, another task from my 101 things list.

City Steam, Hartford
A beery lovely afternoon stroll

As we approached our car in the parking garage, we heard a woman shout to us: “Anyone want to help me get a dead bird off my car?”

dead bird quoteThis was either the weirdest set up to a mugging or a woman who needed help getting a dead bird off her car.

My husband said the only thing he could say in that situation: “Sure!”

He went over to her car expecting a little robin or sparrow, and there was a humongous seagull, dead, with its leg stuck in her headlight. She had been standing there for who knows how long, trying to pull it out and losing her nerve.

Bird removed, it was time for us to go home and prepare the haggis.

101 things button #67 (101 things in 1001 days): Go to at least five offbeat or small museums.

  1. Bling at the PEZ Factory
  2. Seagulls and the Temple of Trash
  3. Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum
  4. Melancholy at the Museum of Bad Art
  5. Let’s Talk About the Museum of Sex

Trash-Museum-logo

Featured on BlogHer.com

Bling at the PEZ Factory

Question: How do you get a teenage boy to choose to come along to a museum with you?

Answer: You promise him a bucket of candy.

Dan filling bucket of Pez candy

I can without a doubt say that I now know more about PEZ than I ever knew before.

Pez Museum collage

Clockwise:

  • My son Dan is 15 PEZ grasshoppers high.
  • Bling at the PEZ Factory: Limited Edition Swarovski Crystal Ladybug Dispenser
  • PEZ at our feet

pez museum

I earned 17 out of 20 on the PEZ trivia challenge. That’s a B.

Pez museum

And I got to make a dent in one of my 101 things: Go to at least five offbeat or small museums.

Pez museum

PEZ Visitor Center, Orange, CT

101 things button  #67 (101 things in 1001 days): Go to at least five offbeat or small museums.

  1. Bling at the PEZ Factory
  2. Seagulls and the Temple of Trash
  3. Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum
  4. Melancholy at the Museum of Bad Art
  5. Let’s Talk About the Museum of Sex