Would YOU step inside the ‘sex box’? Exhibition showcases erotic devices collected from around the world (let’s hope it’s more fun that it looks)

  • The racy objects are being put on display in London at the Wellcome Collection’s ‘Institute of Sexology’
  • Among them is Wilhelm Reich’s ‘Orgone’, a simple metal-lined box which claims to induce sexual pleasure
  • The curators of the ‘Institute of Sexology’ in London hope that visitors will try the box out for themselves
  • Exhibition, opening 20th of November, studies work of ‘sexperts’ such as Sigmund Freud and Marie Stopes

The cure for all society’s problems is for people to have frequent orgasms.
At least that was the claim of Austrian psychoanalyst, Wilhelm Reich, in 1940 when he created a sex box dubbed the ‘Orgone’.
Now a replica of the contraption, along with various other sexual devices, is being put on display in London at the Wellcome Collection’s ‘Institute of Sexology.’

In 1940, Wilhelm Reich, created a box dubbed the ‘Orgone’. Alternating layers of organic and non-organic materials inside the walls supposedly increase the energy leading to orgasms. Now a replica of the contraption, along with various other sexual devices, are being put on display in London at the Wellcome Collection’s ‘Institute of Sexology.’ Pictured is an example of the Orgone

The Orgone was essentially a metal-lined box that claimed to harness a mysterious atmospheric force that would bring people to new heights of sexual pleasure.

Alternating layers of organic and non-organic materials inside the walls supposedly increased the energy inside the box causing intense orgasms.   

Reich’s patients would sit inside the device to treat illnesses, leading to newspapers stories about sex boxes that cured cancer.

The curators of the exhibition now hope that visitors will try the box out for themselves, in an attempt to generate debate about sexual behaviour and identity.

Opening this month, the exhibition explores the study of sex and the work of ‘sexperts’ such as Sigmund Freud, Marie Stopes, Alfred Kinsey and Masters and Johnson.

Displayed alongside the Orgone are strange sex aids and leaflets giving advice – including on that explains how bicycle repair kit can be used to repair a contraceptive cap.

Opening this month, the exhibition explores the study of sex and the work of ‘sexperts’ such as Sigmund Freud, Marie Stopes, Alfred Kinsey and Masters and Johnson, as well as works of art (pictured) that explore sexual behaviour at the beginning of the 20th century 

Pictured is Ye Olde Sex Chart created by Carolee Schneemann, in 1975, listing her sexual activities. The artist is best known for the provocative use of her nude body to explore personal expression 

On the left is a a collection of sexual aids, date of which unknown, with instructions, in a wooden box. Pictured on the right is a vintage poster for the Institute for Sex Research requesting volunteers for studies into sexuality 

It also explores the history of research into sexuality with, overall, more than 200 artworks, objects, photographs and archived material.

The material takes visitors on a journey, revealing the amusing and conservative views of sexologists from different decades.

One of these doctors, Jean-Martin Charcot, who turned the study of sexuality into a sordid-type of entertainment.

An engraving by André Brouillet reveals Charcot giving a lecture on hysteria in the hospital of La Salpetrière, Paris, in 1887 with his subject being an undressed woman.

The exhibition also follows key sexologists including Sigmund Freud, Marie Stopes, Alfred Kinsey, Wilhelm Reich, Magnus Hirschfeld and Margaret Mead.

The sexologists in the show are all, at heart, collectors, whether of books, testimonies, erotica, photographs or statistics.

The first section, ‘The Library’, highlights the systematic archiving and accumulation central to the craft, including objects from Henry Wellcome’s vast collection of erotica.

Pictured is a Japanese ivory statue of a man and woman having sex created in the 19th century. The material takes visitors on a journey, revealing the amusing and surprisingly unconservative views of sexologists from different decades

On the right is a cylindrical lekythos from Greece, with black figures engaging in sexual acts decorating the outside created 550BCE-500BCE. On the left are Jugum penises, anti-masturbation devices that had jagged metal rings fitted to the base of the penis used in 1880-1920

Opening with the Nazi burning of archives amassed by Magnus Hirschfeld’s Institut für Sexualwissenschaft in Berlin, it explores how Hirschfeld’s material on homosexuality was assembled against prevailing social codes.

This is the first exhibition in a £17.5 million ($27.7 million) expansion of Wellcome Collection in London and occupies a new gallery dedicated to year-long shows.

‘The Institute of Sexology’ will evolve during its run bringing in new commissions, live events, discussions and performances as part of a ‘Sexology Season; of activity across the UK.

The sexologists in the show are all, at heart, collectors, whether of books, testimonies, erotica, photographs or statistics.

Another room, called ‘The Lab’ points to the bespoke laboratory William Masters and Virginia Johnson secretly established at Washington University to observe and record hundreds of individuals having sex.

Sculptures showing people having sex are among the items on display at the Wellcome Collection’s exhibition. On the right is an ancient Roman oil laps showing an embracing couple ‘The Institute of Sexology’ runs from 20 November to 13 September 2015 in London. On the left is a erotic hinged fruit created before 1936. The terracota lamp is thought to be first century CE 

Their measurements of real-time physiology – heart rate, lubrication, blood pressure, brain activity, organ size – during stimulation and orgasm established the complexity orgasms, especially by women.

The room explores how their findings and campaigns for gendered equality in climactic response fed into the zeitgeist of the 1960s sexual revolution.

‘The Institute of Sexology offers a complex, often contradictory story of the study of sex, and highlights the profound effect that the gathering and analysis of information can have in changing attitudes about the human condition,’ said curator Kate Forde.

‘It presents typed diagnoses alongside handmade campaign material, scientific charts next to handwritten testimonies.

‘But all are caught up in attempts to free us from the tyranny of preconceived ideas about sex, and suggest that our understanding about our sexual identities is a story of constant evolution.”

‘The Institute of Sexology’ runs from 20 November to 13 September 2015 at Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road in London.

Pictured are two phallic sculptures which will be shown as part of the exhibition which opens on 20th of November. On the left late period (664–332 BCE) sculpture of the Egyptian god Horus. On the right is a solid bronze phallic amulet in form of pripus with hindquarters of horse created around 100BC

The ‘Veedee’ vibrator claimed to cure colds, digestive complaints and flatulence through ‘curative vibration’. In the late 1800s, massage was considered effective for combating almost any physical complaint. The ‘venivici’ translates from Latin into ‘I came, I conquered’

Pictured on the left is a man in stockings, pictured by an anonymous photographer, while on the right is a film poster for ‘Maisie’s Marriage’. The film was subject to an aggressive censorship campaign by the Home Office and British Board of Film Censors

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