It’s easy to disregard New York’s Museum of Sex as a tourist trap—one that advertises heavily on the subway, and features a breast-themed Bouncy Castle.
Museums of erotica, like Paris’s Musée de l’Érotisme and Berlin’s Beate Uhse Erotik-Museum, have been known to brim with prurient curiosities: antiquated sex toys, fertility icons with very erect phalluses. They are the kind of places you visit once, for the fun and fascination of it, and then probably never return to. (In recent years, both closed their doors permanently.)
New York’s Museum of Sex, which opened in 2002 on the busy corner of Fifth Avenue and 27th Street, has also explored sex through the display of erotic objects and ephemera. But recently, the museum has overhauled its program to focus on another facet of sexuality: sex as artistic inspiration.
By organizing exhibitions and lectures that explore the relationship between fine art and sex, the museum hopes to shed any gimmicky reputation and establish itself as a site of serious cultural exchange.
“The topic of sex is so important to almost any creative person,” says art director and nightlife impresario Serge Becker, who is also Museum of Sex’s newest creative and artistic director. “It seemed like a no-brainer to bring art into the museum.”
Becker was appointed to his position this June. And his first act at the museum, before he officially took its helm, was to reimagine its advertising strategy—to “shift its perspective,” he says. And he used art as his tool.