Phallological Museum: Reykjaviks Quirkiest Attraction

Icelandic Phallological Museum exhibit

Quick Facts

  • The Icelandic Phallological Museum contains 276 specimens covering all mammals found in Iceland.
  • Iceland has 300 museums, that’s a museum for every 1000 people.
  • The Icelandic word for a museum is the same word for a flock of sheep
  • Since opening in 1997 the museum has moved twice, first from Reyjavik to Húsavík in 2004 and returning in 2011.
Icelandic Phallological Museum exhibit

Phallological Museum Experience

Culture is always important to me when I travel, and there isn’t a better place to discover local culture than a museum. By this point of my trip, I had already been to various museums. Including the Perlan Museum and learned about the Icelandic landscape. And later in the day, I had arranged to visit the Icelandic Punk Museum to learn about their musical history. I thought it would do me some good to spend some time learning about wildlife. One of the more popular places for tourists to do that (maybe even moreso than theWhale Museum) is the Icelandic Phallological Museum.

I first heard about the Icelandic Phallological Museum whilst listening to the podcast “No such thing as a fish”. Immediately I added this spot to my bucket list. Especially after I read their claim to be “probably” the only museum in the world dedicated to collecting phallic specimens. The concept seemed mad to me but that was a large part of what intrigued me to go. I’m not alone in thinking this as over 70,000 visitors flock to the museum each year.

The beginnings of the Phallological Museum

The curator acquired his first (well second) penis in 1974 when he acquired a bull’s pizzle, a cane that was used by his teacher to point at the blackboard. People then started to gift him various penises as a joke, but soon he had amassed every mammal in Iceland and decided to curate the collection into a museum. He still has a bowtie made from a sperm whale’s penis that is on display but he enjoys wearing it at the Christmas party. 

Sheltering from the elements

We had just left after checking into our new hotel and started to make our way there. The storm caught me off guard, and I felt like I was barely moving at times because of the strong winds and slippery ice. Still, we managed to battle against the elements and make it to the doors in one piece. I passed by various pieces of phallic artwork as I made my way down the stairs. At the bottom of which I was greeted by a gift shop (which is my favorite part of any museum) and a cafe.

I was feeling hungry after not enjoying my breakfast, but the cafe at the Phallological Museum was too crowded. Therefore, we decided to tour the exhibits first and hoped for a table later. You cannot buy your tickets in advance online here, so we paid for them at the counter (2500 ISK at the time of writing) and made our way through the barriers.

Icelandic Phallological Museum exhibit

We started to make our way through the exhibits. I entered each exhibit and found it filled with jars of different mammals’ penises that were preserved in jars. Additionally, there were drawings of each animal and facts about them that accompanied the displays. Instead of being regular facts though they are all focused on its courting habits. This was anything from mating rituals, and my favourite section, oddities. I ended up engrossed reading plaque, it was hard not to enjoy myself and having a laugh at nature’s expense. Everything was here from seals and whales to moose and hamsters. Thanks to donations from honourary members, the Phallological Museum’s collection has grown to contain 276 specimens. 

We spent the next hour or so wandering through the exhibits. However the penultimate one is where things take a real turn. Amongst all the exhibits we found the final mammal displayed, man himself. Back in 2011, a then 95-year-old Pall Arason passed, and in doing so contributed to the museum. “I have been waiting for this guy for 15 years” was the quote from the curator, Sigurdur Hjartarson. I was shocked to discover that in fact, many men across the world pledged themselves. Creating a bizarre race to see who would die first. The winner being immortalised as an exhibit viewed by thousands each year.

The final exhibit was when things got really bizarre. I had experienced mammals and even humans, and now it was time for creatures from Icelandic folklore. Now for obvious reasons, it still has actual specimens, including the testicles of the man-eating ghoul cat. It’s worth mentioning though that this is clearly something that someone has dug up and said “I’m pretty sure that’s what it is” and handed it in. But as someone who grew up loving to read about folklore and creatures, it was a really fun and unexpected section to discover.

I loved how playful they were with the Phallological Museum. They even went as far as to include a creature that didnt have a penis but its worm shape made it look like one. I signed the visitor’s book and read the comments left by visitors from across the world. Many of whom were eager to share their thoughts about their visit. I found it hysterical laughing at the comments and doodles other visitors left behind, but I will admit I am childish.

Unfortunately, that brought us to the end of our time at the museum, we excited back into the cafe and gift shop we entered earlier. The packed seating forced me to go elsewhere in search of lunch since I couldn’t find a seat. But not even the food was safe from the museum’s themes. They shaped the pancakes as a penis to keep with the Phallological Museum theme, which was both unsettling and hilarious because pancakes, a favorite food of mine that had remained relatively innocent until now. I didnt get even get to try cafes own exclusive craft beer.

Phallological Museum FAQs

Can I prebook?

Nope, they don’t sell tickets in advance. You just have to turn up and buy at the entrance.

How much is an entry ticket?

2500 ISK

How long should I spend here?

This is going to vary, I have some friends who visited and left within half an hour, we were there for just over an hour.

Where should I go next?

Nearby you can walk to the famous Rainbow road, or have a glass of wine in the opera House. If you can’t get a spot in the cafe there are some great places to eat nearby including the Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur for hot dogs. Of course you can always book the Sky Lagoon for a relaxing experience. And you can book that with Get Your Guide.

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