Intimate Worlds

Intimate Worlds: Exploring Sexuality through the Wellcome Collection was an exhibition held 5th April-29th June 2014 at Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM) Exeter.

This was the first ever exhibition of the erotic and sexually-related artefacts collected as part of the enormous medical history collection of early twentieth century billionaire pharmacist and philanthropist, Sir Henry Wellcome and now kept by the Science Museum. An account of the research that lay behind the exhibition can be found in this article for Notches blog written by team member Jen Grove.

Students from Exeter College examine 18th century Chinese glass paintings

These revealed the varieties and complexities of the way that sex has been understood and represented in different cultures across global history.

This prompts us to question our own attitudes towards such contemporary issues as censorship and display, gender and desire, the boundaries between childhood and adulthood, control of sexuality, fertility and contraception, pleasure and power relations.

We asked our audiences to reflect on their own culture and consider the value and significance of sex to us today. Our project member Jen Grove analysed discussed audience feedback in an article for Notches blog.  arti

In this short film, we meet representatives from the health and education sectors to discuss how this beautiful and candid display of sexually-themed objects from history could unlock its potential to enhance the delivery of sex education. Film by Ross Gill.


A toolkit for talking about sex!

This incredible collection of objects has been the inspiration for much of Sex and History’s activities and was used as a springboard for discussions far beyond the exhibition. While it was on display it provided a toolkit for local sexual health and sex education work.

Students from Exeter College perform Aristophanes’ ‘Lysistrata’, responding to the objects in the exhibition