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Members Only: The Iceland Phallological Museum is the pantheon of penis

Nothing tickles my pickle like a weird museum! The International Museum of Surgical Science in Chicago is fun. I dream of visiting the Mutter Museum in Philly. Despite this stiff competition, the Iceland Phallological Museum in Reykjavik stands alone. You’d be hard pressed to find a better way to spend 2500 Icelandic kronor (about $19).

Note: This isn’t really a museum of erotica. It’s a deep dive into the ding dong, its many morphologies, the ways it’s wielded, and its representations in culture. While my parents and our son opted to let Erik and I explore this weenie wonderland on our own during our multigenerational Iceland trip, I wouldn’t have been embarrassed to bring the whole family.

Entering the phallus palace

You penetrate the Iceland Phallological Museum through the cafe, where it took all our willpower not to blow our wad on one of the wang-shaped waffles.

Penis-shaped waffles sold at the Iceland Phallological Museum

“Relax, don’t do it,” we told ourselves. Eating a dick would be our reward. We pulled out of the fragrant cafe and entered the showcase of schlongs.

Penis-inspired art at the Iceland Phallological Museum: A snail with a penis for a body.

The exhibit starts you off with foreplay: some artful todgers. Kind of cute, really.

The Icelandic National Handball Team and the artist's rendering of their penises at the Iceland Phallological Museum.

Then it expands into the world of sports, with a sculpture depicting the chubs of champions: the masts of the entire Icelandic National Handball Team in silver, to commemorate their second-place finish at the 2008 Olympics.

The genuine packages

The Iceland Phallological Museum really gets bumpin’ with the preserved pricks, some bobbing in formaldehyde, some dried. You’ve got your deer dongs (hairy). Your piggy peepees (twisty). Your savannah bananas –giraffe, zebra and elephant (jumbo!). Your rodent rods (presented with helpful magnifying glass). Your pony baloney (distressingly, dried and spiced).

Dried horse penises favored with salt, sage, basil, thyme, nutmeg, rosemary, oregano and marjoram, at the Iceland Phallological Museum.

They’re presented along with fun phallic factoids. Such as:

  • American bison bulls like to bury their beef in other bulls.
  • Boars can enjoy 15-minute orgasms.
  • White-tail deer bucks who are low in the pecking order wait for the dominant males to fight — then they sneak their snausages into the does on the sidelines.
  • The male California sea otter will try to plunge its pecker into other species — even carcasses.

Thar she blows

A vintage engraving featuring a beached whale with visible penis at the Iceland Phallological Museum.

It was time for the most extensive and impressive section of the pudendum compendium: The free willies. The cetacean sensations. The full mobies. The whales!

Dried whale penises mounted like trophies at the Iceland Phallological Museum.

Some of these are mounted trophy style, extending from the wall like mighty swords. Others languish limply in vials. Either way, these were some titanic tools.

A man standing next to a 6-foot sperm whale penis at the Iceland Phallological Museum.

The sperm whale’s unit, in a floor-mounted tube, stands as tall as Erik (6 feet) — and yet, according to an interview with founder Sigurður Hjartarson, this is “just the tip.” The intact organ was reportedly 16 feet long and weighed 700 pounds. (And do you know why they named it a sperm whale to begin with? Because people thought their waxy oil — so valuable in lamps and candles in the 16th to 19th centuries — was actual sperm.)

Make of it what you will(y)

Clothing made of whale penis skin at the Iceland Phallological Museum.

Next came the Iceland Phallological Museum’s creepiest section: artificats fashioned from, well, skins. “The curator’s Sunday codpiece, made from the penis skin of a sperm whale”? OK. I liked the scrotum lanterns better; they were pretty.

Oosiks, or clubs made from the bones in walrus penises at the Iceland Phallological Museum.

The most fascinating hard-ifacts were the weapons. You had the classic pizzle whips, which got this gun show started in the first place (more on that later). But there was also an oosik — a club made from the bone inside a walrus winky, purportedly used by native Alaskans (but maybe only to make money from tourists). And by the way, lots of mammal members have bones, known as bacula. Humans’ boneless tenders are the weird wienies, really.

Jimi’s jimmy and other people steeples

Then we came to the penis museum’s climax, and the only section that would have made me squirm if I’d brought the family: human genitalia. They have a cast of Jimi Hendrix’s primary instrument, created by “Cynthia Plaster Caster,” who famously created molds of more than 70 celebrity apprentices starting in the 60s. There’s a truly bizarre letter of donation for a penis named Elmo, intended to be harvested during the donor’s lifetime. Fortunately, this meat muppet isn’t on display. Yet.

Cast of Jimi Hendrix’s penis by Cynthia Plaster Caster

There’s a photo of a man whose organ dangles almost to his knees, with a letter suggesting that after his death, his mighty manhood be displayed between the polar bear pole and a whale’s harpoon. I would like to note at this point that I did not see any bear bodkins at the museum. That doesn’t mean they weren’t there. There were just too many cocks to clock every one of them.

The founder of the Icelandic Phallological Museum

Which leads me to another embarrasing omission: Looking through my photos, I realize that I did not notice the real human penis on display. That could be because it’s reportedly more of a mole than a man pole. During the preservation process, the donor’s equipment experienced something probably all too familiar to men in this chilly country: shrinkage. It’s been described as a “gray, wrinkly, mostly unrecognizable mass” — much to the disappointment of Hjartarson, who had been waiting for this particular protuberence for 15 years. Maybe that’s why he looks so sad in the above photo. Chin up, Professor Private Parts — you’re not the first to be let down by a gender reveal.

Why a penis museum, though?

Whips made of bull penises at the Iceland Phallological Museum.

And what’s up with Professor Hjartarson, anyway? Of all the things to put on display, why winky-dinks? It sounds like a cock-and-bull story, but here’s how the Icelandic Phallological Museum happened: At first the professor only had one penis (in addition to the one we can assume he came with). In 1974, serving as a school headmaster on the tip of a peninsula (look up the etyomology there) north of Reykjavik, Hjartarson regaled his colleagues with tales from his rural childhood, like driving the cows home using a whip made of a dried bull pizzle. Their interest aroused, his staff gifted him with one of these bull whips — the collection’s charter member, so to speak.

Well, you know how it is when people hear you collect something. Some of his teachers spent summers whaling in nearby Hvalfjörður (Whale Fjord), and they found it hilarious to bring their boss whale wangs as souvenirs. By 1980, Professor Hjartarson had 13 peens (14, all inclusive). At this point he realized his toolbox already contained half of Iceland’s land mammals. Now he had a goal: Gotta catch ’em all!

When Hjartarson erected his first junk collection in 1997, locals couldn’t get up much interest. But as time went on, visitation swelled. The whole enterprise came to a head after the pud professor passed the baton to his son, Hjortur, described by the museum as “an experienced man” and a “second-generation phallologist.” (A science that doesn’t exist, one museum professional pointed out.) Hjortur pulled the erection collection into the 21st century, making it into the penetrating experience it is today.

The Iceland Phallological Museum’s happy ending

After seeing more of more males of more species than we’d ever thought feasible, Iceland’s phallological museum still held one delight for us: We needed to put a penis inside us. Fortunately, we were able to do that right in the cafe. To get us in the mood, a slideshow showed a loop of nature’s dick pics, from spurting geysers to suggestive cock — I mean, rock — formations.

Penis-shaped waffles with strawberries and Nutella at the Iceland Phallological Museum.

We ordered two succulent cock-and-balls-shaped waffles, smothered in Nutella and fresh strawberries. The whipped cream was served on the side, allowing the diner to apply it to whichever part of the waffle inspired. Once we took a mildly pornographic photo of our e-snack-ulation, we dug in, moaning with pleasure. Seriously, we could have eaten a whole bag of these things.

The gift shop of the Iceland Phallological Museum

The penis museum gift shop looked good too, with everything from a condom packaged with a photo of Reykjavik’s most phallic landmark, labeled “Enjoy the Monument” to kits for immortalizing your mortadella in plaster. But we didn’t buy a thing. Frankly, we were drained.

If you, too, are looking for a good time in Reykjavik, take my advice and visit the Iceland Phallological Museum. It won’t leave you hanging.

If you don't want to pay the $20 for the exhibit, or you're a little short on time, just visit the cafe and gift shop. There is ample penile memorabilia on display there, not to mention the fun slide show.

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