Copyright GUM - Mara Standaert

No ‘Willy Show’ at Ghent science museum

“Phallus. Norm and Form” opens at the Ghent science museum GUM on Thursday.   The exhibition is devoted to the male member but, warns GUM director Marjan Doom, “Don’t expect a ‘Willy Show’”.  The exhibition simply hopes to trash a number of clichés and prejudices!

The exhibition will provide answers to taxing questions like “Does the phallus make the man?” and “Am I normal size?”.

“Phalluses are everywhere: in ancient cave drawings, in art or on the back of a toilet door as well as on social media” says Doom.

The exhibition is the result of co-operation with Belgian and international artists but also with scientists like urologist Piet Hoebeke (Ghent University). 

The exhibition is ready in time but faced unusual challenges.  The museum’s spam filter stopped a whole host of emails sent with queries about taboo words. Fortunately, this was noticed in time.

On show is the work of a whole series of internationally renowned artists.  “Grayson Perry is a British artist working on gender fluidity, while work by Belgium’s Berlinde De Bruyckere will also be present” says Doom.

Be on the look-out for the art of Britain’s David Hockney, the US photographer Man Ray, the Australian-Colombian Maria Fernanda Cardoso, Swiss sculptor Jean Tinguely and the work of lingerie designer Murielle Scherre.

"It's not the size that matters, it is shape" by M.F. Cardoso
Copyright GUM - Mara Standaert

Groningen University Museum has lent its 19th century ‘Muscle Man’.  The exhibit shows a figure that has had all its skin removed to show muscles and tendons. 

“It’s made of papier-mâché and displays an erect penis that looks people straight in the eye” explains Doom.

The exhibition explores the importance of size, sets out the parameters for a normal penis and explains why it’s important for science to know what a normal size is!

'Muscle Man' unwrapped
Copyright GUM - Mara Standaert

It’s a question urologist Piet Hoebeke hears time and time again.  In 99.9% of cases he’s able to tell patients their size is normal.

Fortunately, it’s not a one-way street. Vulvas too are on show as well as clitorises.  However, it was only in 2005 that Australian scientists examined its anatomy in a scientific fashion for the first time!

A stud's erection
Copyright GUM - Mara Standaert

“Phallus. Norm and Form” opens on Thursday and runs at the GUM (next to Ghent University’s Botanical Garden) till 8 January 2023.  Director Doom insists the exhibition is entirely kids-proof!

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