11 Things to Know About What It's Like to Run a Penis Museum

The Icelandic Phallological Museum
The Icelandic Phallological Museum / The Icelandic Phallological Museum

We couldn’t believe it either, but yep, there’s a museum for that! Hjörtur Gísli Sigurðsson, curator of the Icelandic Phallological Museum, exposes it all.

1. My father, Sigurður Hjartarson, started to collect penises in 1974. 

The first specimen was a pizzle—a dried bull’s penis. His friends gave it to him as a joke, but it sparked the idea to collect them. He kept the collection at home and it slowly grew. He opened it to the public in 1997.

2. He started collecting when I was 10 years old ...

... so I grew up with it and accepted it as normal, which it is. I had great adventures going to remote places to harvest organs with my father.

3. Most of our specimens are from Icelandic mammals.

People all over let us know if something happens, like if a whale beaches. Hunters also bring specimens, although we never ask for an animal to be killed just to harvest the organ.

4. We have one human specimen.

It was from a 95-year-old man. He signed a letter of donation in 1996, and when he died in 2011 a doctor removed his penis.

5. We also have 23 specimens from mystical creatures of Icelandic folklore ...

... such as elves, trolls, and mermen, found by people hiking the countryside. Some, we suspect, are man-made. Some are family heirlooms.

6. We have practical utensils too.

Everyday objects shaped in penis-shaped forms—cutlery, lamps, bottle openers etc.

7. I don't get embarrassed by the collection.

There is nothing pornographic or offensive on display in the museum.

8. All kinds of people visit us and from all over the world.

The reaction is 99.9 percent positive. Most people see the humorous side and some get very into the scientific angle of it. Most people enter not knowing what to expect and come out smiling or laughing. Last year, we had a little over 20,000 visitors.

9. The museum offers a lesson in diversity.

You’ll learn that as with everything in nature, the diversity in this department is as great as in any other; even within the same species the difference in size and shape is often quite remarkable.

10. The collection is never complete.

The long-term goal is always to add to the collection. There is always something out there to collect, a new one, a bigger, better one, a different one. Aside from collecting, I’d like to open a gallery that could show phallic art in all forms.

11. The world needs a lot of things.

Peace, love, sustenance for all. Also, it needs a penis museum. Why? It makes people think about taboos. The mission is to bring these objects and discussions to the surface. The purpose is also to educate and entertain.

As told to Bess Lovejoy