Even we writers get words wrong sometimes. Case in point… The Finger Lakes Region of New York where I make my home is surrounded by fossils and geological wonders of all shapes and sizes. There’s even a museum dedicated to them in Ithaca, The Paleontological Research Institute. So, after passing a sign with a similar sounding name, with time to spare before the IWR officially kicked off, I decided to pay it a visit. Imagine my chagrin when I discovered it actually said “Icelandic Phallological Museum”! That’s right-a museum stuffed to the gills with the penises and penile parts of over 200 land and sea mammals. Plus a few other unusual artifacts.
I decided to channel my inner Nancy Drew and drop in for a visit. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one curious about this tourist attraction. Though it was midday, the place was hopping! It’s not all fun and games there though. The only museum of its kind in the world, its founder and original curator, Sigurour Hjartarson, was also a teacher, historian, author, and translator and the IPM is now curated by his son, a second generation phallologist. Each exhibit has a drawing/photo accompanied by an informational plaque that covers the courting habits and mating patterns of the mammal, along with its phallic features, life stages, and oddities.
Though this was all quite enlightening what I most enjoyed about my time there was as follows:
- Eavesdropping on four twenty-somethings as they compared the various organs on exhibit to those they had known
- A delightful poem about a walrus and his “oosik” by British-Canadian “Bard of the Yukon”, Robert W. Service
- Observing how many ways a penis can be used other than for its intended purpose
- Checking out a number of drawings depicting many of Iceland’s creatures-trolls, monsters, and other ghouls, like this Nasty Ghost of Snaefell
The museum also has an extensive gift shop and a café featuring (what else?) penis waffles, but I passed. I don’t regret my unexpected field trip one bit but enough was enough!
Note: This post was reviewed by a male sensitivity reader prior to publication