Sex exhibit at THEMUSEUM creates stir

(Contributed photo)
(Contributed photo)

For some, talking about sex is an uncomfortable matter. Whether it is in a casual conversation with peers or having the ever-feared ‘talk’ with parents, the topic of sex can be downright awkward to talk about.

There are many ways to discuss getting down without talking dirty. With all the euphemisms for sex, it’s easy to have a conversation without ever addressing the topic head on. But you won’t find any of this at “The Science of Sexuality” exhibit opening at THEMUSEUM on Friday, Jan. 25.

“The Science of Sexuality” has had a long and controversial history before its current location at THEMUSEUM. The exhibit was first created in Montreal by the Montreal Science Centre for young people ages 12 and up as a way to respectfully teach exhibit-goers about all types of sexuality.

The controversy grew quickly after and has followed the exhibit to Kitchener. To promote the exhibit, THEMUSEUM created radio advertisements, one of which has been causing some controversy within the radio community. The ad featured words that sounded sexual, but weren’t, to play off of the sexual theme.

“The common denominator between the one federal and three provincial museums that I spoke to was that while it was created for 12 and up, all ages were coming. The senior market was coming up saying ‘hey, you didn’t go far enough. We’re active too.’ That’s something that we took notice of and built into with ‘The Sex Dialogues’,” said David Marskell, CEO of THEMUSEUM.

“The Science of Sexuality” covers a range of topics such as abstinence, sexual orientation, masturbation and sexually transmitted diseases featuring videos and interactive exhibits. Tying in with the exhibit, THEMUSEUM is hosting a series called “The Sex Dialogues” which features a range of speakers, such as Sue Johanson and Ellie Tesher, and topics, such as how to reignite the spark in a long term relationship. It begins on Jan. 25 and goes until April 27.

“It became important for us to go beyond the exhibit and talk about the conversation—to have a smart conversation about sex … we want to accomplish that [we can help] young people who are unsure realize that A) feel normal about their body and the way they look and B) learn about the bad stuff that can happen if they do not take precaution with whatever decision they make,” reflected Marskell.

While it would be easy to play up the sexual aspect to get attention, THEMUSEUM has tried to stay away from the obvious jokes.

“I know we’re going to get some pushback but I’m really pleased that we’re presenting this. It was really tough not to [sensationalize] anything—there are so many double entendres when you talk about a teaser campaign … just when you’re sitting around talking, people were saying ‘we’re going to have sex on the fourth floor for three months,’” joked Marskell.

“It should be a straightforward, smart conversation. We don’t want to sensationalize anything.”

While the controversy surrounding the exhibit has begun, Marskell is worried about something far more sinister: passivity in the audience.

“My fear is two part. There won’t be any pushback. I just hope people are passionate enough to care. And then how far people will go. I hope people won’t picket here because of a reference to abortion, for example,” Marskell said.

Despite the controversy surrounding the exhibit, there is nothing truly sensational about the exhibit. The exhibit is respectful and inclusive of all genders and sexualities. While humour is utilized, the exhibit does not rely on it to prove its point which allows its message to come out stronger. Instead, it is an educational and fun exhibit that is well-suited for all ages.

Check out “The Science of Sexuality” at THEMUSEUM in Downtown Kitchener starting January 25.

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