Sex: A History in 30 Objects

Exhibition Website

Explore some of the diverse ways that human beings have understood sex and sexuality, gender and gender diversity in this small but broad new exhibition, presented in conjunction with the 2015-2016 Penn Humanities Forum on Sex. Thirty objects from the Museum’s vast international collections are presented in this survey.The exhibition explores several themes around the broad topic of sex: Love and Sex; Beauty, Desire, and Attraction; Religion and Sex; Gender Diversity, Gender and Society; and Initiation and Ceremony.

Objects come from many times and regions of the world, including ancient Iran, Greece, Rome, New Guinea, Egypt, Sierra Leone, India, Tibet, and North America, and each object has a story of its own. On view are late Roman period bronze pendants, one shaped as a phallus, one a vagina, not associated with eroticism but rather meant to offer protection. A Native American Lakota pipe bag is decorated with an image of the Double Woman, a powerful, ambivalent figure who, through dreams, has the power to transform men into winkte, members of the Lakota two-spirit, or third gender. A “love stick” from Tol Island, Micronesia, used by men, would be shown to a woman, an intended partner, then poked through the wall of her thatched house by night to elicit her acceptance or rejection.

Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website

  • International
  • Culture / Lifestyle

Exhibition Venues & Dates