Originally posted on NOTCHES:
At the Wellcome Collection’s new exhibition ‘The Institute of Sexology’, visitors must surreptitiously part a curtain to peer at a rosy clay vagina set inside a bifurcated case. Made in the early twentieth century as a teaching aid for health professionals, the Gynaeplaque sits behind a glass pane covered in fingerprints where people have erroneously reached out to put their hands inside. The abiding fascination with laying one’s hands on the hidden ‘truths’ of the sexual body, of rendering sexuality and its psychological corollaries tangible and knowable, forms the drive of the discipline of sexology. This scientific study of human sexual behaviour grew distinct with the work of the German psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing in the late nineteenth century, whose seminal work Psychopathia Sexualis explored the ‘perversions’ of non-procreational sex.
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