Intimate Worlds: Exploring Sexuality through the Wellcome Collection, 5th April-29th June 2014, Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter. 

Chinese ivory carving © Science Museum-Science & Society Picture Library

Intimate Worlds 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.

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

Students from Exeter College examine 18th century Chinese glass paintings

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.

More information on RAMM website. 

A toolkit for talking about sex!

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.

Feedback from a young visitor

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. It was used as a useful toolkit for all aspects of work with sexual health and education.

Our teaching resource pack demonstrates how some of the objects in this exhibition could be used in Relationships and Sex Education (RSE).

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