The Institute of Sexology

Wellcome Collection and Library

20 November 2014 – 20 September 2015

Over 200 objects of art, erotica, film and photography are used to investigate human sexuality.

This exhibition focuses on the pioneers of sex research, particularly the social impact of their work. Alfred Kinsey for example, was instrumental in establishing sexology as a discipline and the research he conducted at his institute in Indiana in the late 1940s raised key questions about normality, perversion and taboo. Kinsey was drawn to sexology by a need to understand his own behaviour; as a young man he began inserting drinking straws, pipe cleaners and even toothbrushes into his uretha to punish himself for having homoerotic feelings.

The display also explores the work of Sigmund Freud whose writings on psychosexual development most famously included the Oedipus Complex, and founder of the first birth control clinic in Britain, Marie Stopes. These examples illustrate how the analysis of sexual behaviour has served as a catalyst for changing social attitudes.

Don't miss

The exhibition brings together a series of contemporary artworks that explore sexual identity. A new commission by Neil Bartlett was inspired by the anonymous personal testimonies participants submitted to the NATSAL sex survey.

Venue information

Opening times

Open by appointment, Mon – Fri, 9.30am – 5.30pm

For details of Bank Holiday closures, please visit Wellcome Library website

"Art Fund" is the operating name of the National Art Collections Fund, a charity registered in England and Wales (209174) and Scotland (SC038331)