In our modern Internet Age, with thousands of explicit images available at the click of a button, the terms “hardcore” and “pornography” have become nearly synonymous. But while it is easy to imagine that “hardcore” is an invention of the 21st century, the desire to sexually break the boundaries of physical and social modesty has long revealed itself throughout history. Despite repeated attempts to censor, sequester or “sanitize” this sexual past, artifacts left from previous generations prove our ancestors were not as asexual as an expurgated version of history would like us to believe.


“While online porn may seem a world away from the brothel catalogs of long ago, the Museum of Sex’s latest show shows our appetite for porn is long—and inventive.”
The Daily Beast


Though much has been lost or discarded, many private collections were kept hidden and secretly traded. Highlights of the exhibition include: a 1855 New York City Brothel Guide; a hand illustrated sex manual from the late nineteenth century; turn of the century photographs featuring interracial sex, group sex, same sex encounters and sex toys use; early stag films; a late twentieth century “glory hole”; as well as a collection of erotic artifacts hidden for nearly a century in the brickwork of a recently renovated Brooklyn brownstone.


Primary Content Advisor

Lisa Z. Sigel, Ph.D.

Professor of History, Department of History, DePaul University

Author of Governing Pleasures and Making Modern Love



Dr. Sarah Bull

Wellcome Trust Research Fellow, University of Cambridge

Department of History and Philosophy of Science


Aimee Burnham, Ph.D. Candidate

Department of History, University of Warwick


Dr. Colette Colligan

Professor, Department of English, Simon Fraser University


Hal Gladfelder

Senior Lecturer in English Literature

English, American Studies and Creative Writing School of Arts, Languages and Cultures

University of Manchester


Ian Littlewood

Author of Sultry Climates: Travel and Sex since the Grand Tour


Kathleen Lubey, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, English, St. John’s University


Joseph W. Slade, Ph. D.

Professor of Media Arts and Studies, Ohio University


Whitney Strub

Associate Professor and Director of Women’s and Gender Studies, Rutgers University-Newark


Jennifer Tyburczy, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Feminist Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara



Bridgeman Art Library

Nidal Jelahej

Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction

Mark Rotenberg, vintagenudephotos.com


Exhibitions Staff

SET Creative

Exhibition Design


Sarah Forbes

Curator, Museum of Sex


Mark Snyder

Director of Exhibitions, Museum of Sex


Production Staff

Jim Richards, CPF

Cletis Chatterton

Trey Tyler

Flores Painting

Tobin Productions

Santiago Lima

Lissa Rivera

Derek Stephan


June 13, 2015 – November 6, 2017