Celebrating eroticism, pornography, anatomy and relationships, did you know that Europe has some of the best sex museums in the world?
You can find erotic art in many museums across Europe and some may even have a dedicated section for those artefacts that are a little more risqué than most. However, some cities have seen a demand for specialist galleries to curate the saucy and the sexy, the lurid and the lewd. Whilst it may not surprise you to find that Amsterdam has three such museums, did you know that you can also find erotic institutions in Spain, Russia and Iceland?
In this guide, we take a look at the most famous sex museums across Europe. From those that simply celebrate the penis or focus entirely on sex machines to those that take a broader view of eroticism in ancient and contemporary culture.
European Sex Museums
Several decades ago, the sex museum was the only place that you would be likely to find curious erotic exhibits, unusual sex toys and ancient but risqué artefacts. Often just as entertaining and titillating as they are educational, the modern audience can just as easily find similar amusement and diversion online or via a late-night documentary. The age of the museum as a source of the unusual and the bizarre seems, sadly, on the wane.
As a result, many popular European sex museums have closed over the last few years….but, some remain.
We’ve collated the details of the biggest and the best sex museums in Europe as well as some hidden treasure troves that have some extraordinary exhibits.
If you are heading to any of these cities then we would certainly recommend dropping in to peer at their collections. Doing so could help ensure their future for years to come…
All prices quoted are correct as of November 2018.
Sex Machines Museum
Melantrichova 476/18, 110 00 Staré Město, Czech Republic
Phone: 00420 227 186260
This museum contains more than 300 exhibits and covers three floors of space, all housed in a 17th century building in the heart of Prague’s old town. It is the only museum in the world that is entirely dedicated to sex machines.
From anti-masturbation equipment and steam vibrators to vibrating body massagers and 21st Century adult toys, the museum offers a fascinating glimpse at the way in which humans have been mechanically (and electrically) stimulating themselves for centuries.
The museum also houses an Old Erotic Cinema which screens early 20th century porn movies.
Admission prices to the museum are as follows (correct as of November 2018):
- General Admission: 250 CZK (€9.65)
- Students: 150 CZK (€5.80)
- Groups of 8 or more: 200 CZK each (€7.70)
The Sex Machines Museum is open daily from 10.00am to 11.00pm
Phallological Museum, Reykjavik, Iceland
Laugavegur 116, 105 Reykjavík, Iceland
Phone: +354 561 6663
Okay, so this museum isn’t technically about sex….it focuses on the penis. Yes, the humble phallus has been given its own museum in Iceland’s capital and the premises, though small, are home to a specimen of every animal native to this Scandi country….including human!
In total, you will find more than 280 penises on display here ranging in size from 0.08 inch to a whopping 67 inches.
The museum originally opened in Akureyri in 1997 but moved to the capital due to popular demand and attracts around 11,000 visitors annually.
Open daily from 10.00am to 6.00pm, the venue also offers an interesting range of souvenirs to take home as a memento of your visit.
Oudezijds Achterburgwal 54, 1012 DP Amsterdam, Netherlands
Phone: +31 20 627 8954
Situated in the heart of the red-light district of Amsterdam, the collection of the Erotic Museum covers three floors.
The collection extends to include an interesting interpretation of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, a room dedicated to S&M as well as an educational feature display of prostitution. You can also find some original drawings by John Lennon in their Sexy Art Gallery and explore the history of erotica through art, literature and sculpture.
There is also a good souvenir shop on site which sells an interesting collection of goods to remember your visit….most of which you can’t take home to show your mother.
The Erotic Museum receives reasonable reviews from the public with:
- 4/5 on Google Reviews
- 5/5 on TripAdvisor
Tickets to the Erotic Museum are priced at €7.00 but you can find these tickets cheaper using tour guides or booking in a group.
The Erotic Museum is open as follows:
- Sunday to Thursday: 11.00am to 1.00am
- Friday and Saturday: 11.00am to 2.00am
Red Light Secrets – Museum of Prostitution
Oudezijds Achterburgwal 60h, 1012 DP Amsterdam, Netherlands
Phone: +31 20 846 7020
A museum dedicated to preserving the colourful past of the city of Amsterdam and celebrating the history of sex workers. It is a quirky collection that exhibits everything from the fashions of working women through the ages to mock ups of a room in a brothel (or running house) . You can even sit in one of the window booths and look out over the streets to get an interesting perspective on what it feels like to be a window girl.
There is also an interesting ‘Confessions’ exhibition where visitors can leave anonymous details of their most revealing exploits plus a memorial to the victims of sexual violence. The audio guide is highly entertaining and is well worth paying the extra money for.
The attraction gets a resounding thumbs up from visitors who consistently rate the museum well on both Google Reviews and TripAdvisor where it receives 4.0 stars from both.
Tickets to the museum are charged at €12.50 but you can save €2 by booking online via their website. They also offer cheaper off-peak tickets for just €9.00 if you visit the museum between 10.00am and 1.00pm.
The Red Light Secrets Museum is open daily from 10.00am to midnight.
Sex Museum (Venus Temple)
18 Damrak, 1012 LH Amsterdam, Netherlands
Phone: +31 (0) 20 622 8376
The world’s first (contemporary) and oldest sex museum, also known as the Venus Temple, the Sex Museum of Amsterdam was originally opened in 1985.
The original collection was quite small and really only covered erotic artefacts from the 19th century. Today, however, the museum covers two buildings and displays hundreds of examples of sex, porn and erotica from classic antiquity to contemporary porn. It is a labyrinthine tour which takes in some peculiar (and familiar) objects, including:
- Roman Stone Phallus
- 16th Century Iron Chastity Belt
- 18th Century Erotic Delftware
- Chinese ‘Pillow Book’
- 20th Century Erotic Toilet Seats
Admission to the Sex Museum/Venus Temple is $4.00 (prices correct as of November 2018).
The museum gets pretty good reviews from its visitors, receiving an average 3.5 stars out of 5 via TripAdvisor.
The Sex Museum is open daily from 9.30am to 11.30pm.
Sedova st., 11, Mall Evrika, 2nd Floor, St. Petersburg 197000, Russia
Phone: +7 911 999 29 25
Opened in 2004, the Mus Eros is the private, multi-million dollar collection of the owners. Some exhibits were donated by doctors or visitors whilst others were purchased at auction. The result is an eclectic and unique display of human sexuality and erotic art.
From historic pieces through to a 3D cinema and a dedicated reading room for guests to enjoy the extensive literature collection, the Mus Eros has one of the largest displays of this kind in the world.
Highlights of the museum include some rare finds from Pompeii and Herculaneum and a rare and very early copy (possibly the first of its kind) of the Kama Sutra. The collection is split into several areas including an historical zone, a library and the BDSM hall.
The museum has been voted the second most interesting place to visit in St Petersburg by the Moscow Times and took second place in a poll of the fifty most popular museums in Russia (taken by the Daily Telegraph). It gets a solid 4.5 out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor with most visitors being blown away by the collection.
Admission to the St Petersburg Erotic Museum is 600 RUP (€7.90).
The Mus Eros is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Tochka G (Museum of Erotic Art)
Novy Arbat St., 15/1, Moscow 119019, Russia
Phone: +7 495 695 30 54
Opened in 2011, Tochka G translates as ‘G-Spot’ and is a huge entertainment complex containing a museum of erotic art. With more than 3,000 artefacts all curated to depict the culture of sex throughout the ages, it is a mammoth collection containing some extremely unique and educational items, including the preserved penis of Rasputin (measured at a surprising 30cm!).
As well as historical exhibits, the museum has a lot of art and proves to offer quite the cultural journey. The curators have also gone to some lengths to make much of the collection available to touch and you can get quite close to most of the displays without the need for protective glass. Oh, and make sure you check out the BDSM section when you go….an eye-opener for the uninitiated.
The museum is quite popular with tourists and locals despite initial concerns over the lack of support for the gallery. It receives a well deserved four out of five stars on Trip Advisor.
Admission is 500 RUB (€6.60) although you can get some discounted tickets if you are visiting other galleries in Moscow.
Tochka G is open daily from midday to midnight.
Museu Eròtic de Barcelona
La Rambla, 96 bis, 08002 Barcelona, Spain
Phone: +34 933 18 98 65
Originally opening in 1998, the Museu Eròtic de Barcelona has recently celebrated its 20th anniversary.
The collection of over 800 pieces is an eclectic mix of rooms covering:
- Ancient Civilisations
- Oriental Eroticism
- Kama Sutra
- World Cultures
- Pin Up Culture
- Great Masters of Painting
- Erotic Picasso
- Fetishism and Sadomasochism
- European Artistic Eroticism
- Private Erotic Video Collection of King Alfonso XIII
There are also some new additions of late, including two rooms; one dedicated to ‘Fuck Machines’ and the other to ‘Sex Dolls’.
Exhibitions are quite transient and there is a changing repertoire of curios, relics and artefacts. Previous events have covered everything from the phallus to lingerie. And, after viewing the dizzying examples of human fornification, what better way to end your visit than a trip to their ‘Erotic Garden’….who knew that nature presented the phallic form in quite so many ways?
Prices for entry to the museum are as follows (correct as of November 2018):
- General Admission: $10.00
- Audio Tour: $12.40
- Hen/Stag Party Ticket: $20.00
The museum is officially partnered with the Erotic Museum in Amsterdam (see above) and you can get a reduced ticket for admission with a ticket from this venue at a discounted price of $8.26.
The museum is well regarded by tourists and visitors consistently rate their experiences highly. The venue has earned itself:
The museum is open daily from 10.00am to 11.30pm.
The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiousities, Fine Art and Natural History
11 Mare St, London E8 4RP, UK
Phone: +44 (0) 20 7998 3617
A tiny venue in Hackney, the Viktor Wynd Museum is little more than a cellar beneath a dark bar housing the personal collection of the owner, Viktor Wynd. It is not a sex museum per se but a rather unique hoard of relics, treasures and artefacts of which many have an erotic edge.
Presenting an ‘incoherent vision of the world displayed through wonder enclosed within a tiny space’, the museum includes the commonplace and the banal (McDonald’s Happy Meal Toys) alongside some rare natural marvels (skull of a two headed kitten and dodo bones) as well as some fine examples of erotic art and, of course, pornography.
It’s a wildcard and we wouldn’t say that this museum is worth travelling far for but it is certainly one of the best (if not, the only) museum of curiosities of its kind in England with displays of this nature.
Admission to the space is £6 (prices correct as of November 2018).
The museum is open as follows:
- Tuesday: 3.00pm to 10.30pm
- Wednesday to Sunday: Midday to 10.30pm
The Wellcome Collection
183 Euston Rd, London NW1 2BE, UK
Phone: +44 (0) 20 7611 2222
Again, like the Viktor Wynd Museum, the Wellcome Collection is not a dedicated sex museum but it does have a rather fascinating collection of objects collected by the trust’s founder, Henry Wellcome.
A patron of science and a philanthropist, Wellcome also came from the Victorian age of discovery and was one of those gentleman travellers who liked to bring home unusual souvenirs to add to his private collection.
You can find in the ‘Medicine Man’ exhibition, an assortment of strange objects from King George III’s hair and Napoleon’s toothbrush through to Japanese sex dolls and strange fertility toys.
It’s got more of a broad cultural reference than the other museums on our list but certainly one to pop along to if you are in London anyway.
The best part? Admission is free.
The Wellcome Trust Collection is open as follows:
- Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday: 10.00am to 6.00pm
- Thursday: 10.00am to 10.00pm
- Sunday: 11.00am to 6.00pm
Gone but not Forgotten…
Sadly, the appeal of the sex museum has diminished in the modern world as the television and the internet has brought the oddities of human sex and sexuality straight into our own living rooms. As a result, some of Europe’s most famous and original sex museums have had to close their doors due to falling visitor numbers, including:
The Museum of Eroticism, Paris
Opened in 1997 and closed in 2016, this sex museum was situated in the red-light district of Pigalle. It was a large collection of erotic art and sculpture owned by antiques dealer, Alain Plumey and, French Teacher, Jo Khalifa. Arranged over five floors, artefacts spanned ancient times through to the contemporary period; one level of the museum was entirely dedicated to the bawdyhouses and brothels of the 19th and 20th century.
The Erotic Art Museum, Hamburg
Opened in 1996 and closed in 2014, this huge museum dedicated to the ‘intellectual’ side of erotica was curated by Claus Becker. It featured a private collection of more than 500 works of art which spanned six centuries of eroticism. Located near the popular red-light tourist district of the Reeperbahn, the Erotic Art Museum celebrated genitalia filled canvases, fetish fuelled sculpture and ancient artefacts that seemed more in keeping with adult toy stores.
Museum of Eroticism, Venice
Formerly situated near Plaza San Marco this museum traced the evolution of eroticism in both literature and art across the centuries. It opened in 2006 and caused outrage from the Catholic Church over its content and its proximity to the famous St Mark’s Basilica. A tribute to the libertine past of Venice and exhibiting film as well as printed works, the museum was twinned with the Parisian museum by the same name. It closed after just ten months following a claim by the Catholic Church that the venue was an attack on the ‘dignity’ of Venice.
Beate Uhse Erotic Museum, Berlin
Claiming to be the ‘world’s largest erotic museum’, the Beate Uhse collection, housed near the Berlin Zoologischer Garten railway station, was open between 1996 and 2014. Personally opened by the founder of the Beate Uhse corporation, the museum covered an enormous 2,000 sq. m and explored everything from love and relationships to fetishes and fantasies , the culture of sex and sexuality. Exhibits ranged from ancient to contemporary and included interactive games, high-tech 3D projections as well as historically valuable pieces. The museum was dedicated as much to education as it was to titillation and when it closed in 2014, the company went to some length to find alternative premises. Sadly, the museum was deemed financially unviable with a loss in the value of the exhibits for 2015 recorded at €1.2 million.
Museum Erotica, Copenhagen
Being located just of the main shopping street of off of Strøget in Copenhagen, the Museum Erotica originally opened in 1993. With extensive exhibitions ranging from contemporary pornography through to historic collections, the venue was immensely popular during its time and claimed to have over a million visitors through its doors. The museum closed in 2009 due to financial problems following the death of its co-owner, Kim Clausen.
The ‘Secretum’ of the British Museum, London
Also known as Cupboard 55, the Secretum was used by curators in 1857 (in response to the Obscene Objects Act) as a means to store artefacts belonging to the museum’s collection that were considered too ‘risqué’ for general edification.
For the prudish Victorians, the ‘Cabinet of Obscene Objects’ was shocking and of questionable moral purpose; nevertheless, the Secretum continued to be used to store erotica until fairly recently. Previous displays in what became colloquially known as ‘the porn room’ included a Roman terracotta lamp depicting a naked woman astride the penis of a large crocodile.
Other European sex museums that have now, sadly, closed down, included:
- The Erotikos Muziejus in Kaunas (2009-2014)
- Erotic Museum, Warsaw (2011-2012)
- Greek Erotica Museum (2012)
Featured image via Flickr.