The Mission of the Museum of Sex is to preserve and present the history, evolution and cultural significance of human sexuality. The Museum produces exhibitions, publications and programs that bring the best of current scholarship on sex and sexuality to the widest possible audiences and is committed to encouraging public enlightenment, discourse and engagement.
When the Museum of Sex first emerged on New York City’s Fifth Avenue on October 5, 2002, it was without precedent in the museum world. In the development of its inaugural award winning exhibition NYCSEX: How New York Transformed Sex in America, the Museum created a board of advisors comprised of leading scholars and historians. The Museum’s advisory board has guided curators and guest curators towards research resources, pertinent collections and exhibition relevant artists. Advisors such as Steven Heller, Timothy J. Gilfoyle, Ph.D., Mike Wallace, Ph.D., and June M. Reinisch, Director Emeritus for The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction as well as institutional collaborations with New York University’s Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, New-York Historical Society and the Lower East Side Tenement Museum have contributed to making the Museum of Sex one of the most dynamic and innovative institutions in the world.
Design has played a pivotal role in both exhibition development and execution, with world-renowned design firms such as Pentagram Design Inc., Casson Mann and 2×4, helping to transform the galleries and historic building over the last six years. The museum’s building, built in the area of New York formerly known as the “Tenderloin,” a district of NYC made notorious by the 19th century for its bordellos, dance halls, theaters and saloons, serves as a New York City land marked site.
Since its inception, the Museum of Sex has generated over 30 exhibitions and 6 virtual installations, each in keeping with the Museum’s mission of advocating open discourse surrounding sex and sexuality as well as striving to present to the public the best in current scholarship unhindered by self-censorship. With each new exhibition, lecture series, event and publication, the Museum of Sex is committed to addressing a wide range of topics, while simultaneously highlighting material and artifacts from different continents, cultures, time periods and media.
The Museum’s permanent collection of over 20,000 artifacts is comprised of works of art, photography, clothing and costumes, technological inventions and historical ephemera. Additionally, the museum houses both a research library as well as an extensive multimedia library, which includes 8mm, Super 8mm, 16mm, BETA, VHS and DVDs. From fine art to historical ephemera to film, the Museum of Sex preserves an ever-growing collection of sexually related objects that would otherwise be destroyed and discarded due to their sexual content.
In a short time, the Museum has received attention from academic institutions, major publications, media outlets, and celebrities, positioning the Museum of Sex within the realm of academia and pop culture alike. The Museum has been featured in numerous publications including The New York Times, The New Yorker, Esquire and Time and on television broadcasts ranging from CNN to IFC to NBC’s Law & Order Criminal Intent. Award-winning advertising campaigns in print and television media have sealed the Museum’s arrival as a cultural touchstone.
Accolades continue to pour in from visitors and the press in every corner of the world, inspiring the Museum of Sex to continually surpass its own high expectations. Future planned exhibitions and events – the likes of which have never ever been offered by any other institution- are guaranteed to captivate and resonate, securing the Museum of Sex a well-deserved, distinguished place in history.
Click here to read a letter from the Founder of the museum.