now on view in NYC

Rubbers: The Life, History & Struggle of the Condom


The Museum of Sex, in partnership with the makers of Trojan Brand Condoms, made safe sex sexy again with Rubbers: the Life, History & Struggle of the Condom, a detailed look into the provocative life of the condom. The exhibition took a fun, functional, and fundamental look at the history and progression of the condom from a single object to its role as a multidisciplinary artifact. Influencing everything from science and art to politics and religion, the condom, which has remained at the epicenter of debate since its inception, rose from its humble beginnings to become a barometer of morality and a savior in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Ribbed, flavored, and studded, contemporary condoms have undergone a monumental transformation from their early linen incarnations; now customizable sizes, shapes, and textures not only promote safety, but equally enhance pleasure. This exhibition traces the life and history of the condom from creation and quality-controlled testing to its integral role in safe sex campaigns to its historical and continued status as an emblem of both promiscuity and responsibility. Simultaneously lauded for its ability to combat the transmission of deadly diseases while also condemned by some for its contraceptive qualities, the condom has become the forerunner in moral debates regarding contraception and protection. Through artifacts, art, photography, historical ephemera, and film, patrons explored the epic impact the condom has had upon our society, morality, and health.

Rubbers featured artifacts from vintage photographs of sexually transmitted diseases to military signage campaigning for the sexual safety of soldiers to a wide array of antique condoms, tins, and dispensers. Highlights of the exhibition included conceptual art pieces such as the cruel condom, a condom crafted entirely out of chainmail and covered with spikes and Franco B’s resin condom sculpture assembled from gritty used condoms taken from the floor and trash of the infamous FIST nightclub in London. The exhibition also included Adriana Bertini’s couture condom cocktail dress, made from 1200 hand dyed condoms and fashioned after the Valentino dresses of the 1960s, trendy and contemporary condoms from renowned designers such as Marc Jacobs, and Condoments by WeMake, functional salt and pepper shakers designed and molded after condoms.