The world’s first vagina museum will reopen next month with a new exhibition, thanks to a public fundraising drive after it was forced to close for months and relocate.
The museum was forced to shut its east London premises in February this year when its property guardianship came to an end.
After exceeding an £85,000 fundraising target, the museum was able to set up in a new, bigger location on Poyser Street, Bethnal Green, which opens on 4 November. More than 2,500 people donated.
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“It was a make or break scenario,” said Zoe Williams, head of communications. “We genuinely didn’t know how successful it would be, especially in the cost of living crisis when so many people in our community are really feeling the pinch … it’s just wonderful.”
The Poyser Street premises will have three gallery spaces. The ground floor gallery will display temporary exhibitions, with Endometriosis: Into the Unknown being the first.
It looks at myths and misconceptions that surround the disease, from the cutting edge of research to the reality of living with the condition.
Williams said: “Ever since we opened, one of the number one things that people have asked for is ‘can you do something about endometriosis?’
“This is because endometriosis is incredibly common, but not many people know much about it. Even some people who have it have to learn and research quite a lot themselves … so it seemed like a real priority as an exhibition.”
A pair of upstairs galleries will display a permanent exhibition, and a community gallery displaying temporary exhibitions including work from patient groups and advocacy groups.
As well as the exhibition, the museum also houses a cafe and will host events and performances, including comedy and workshops.
The director, Florence Schechter, has previously said her motivation behind the project was simple. “I discovered there was a penis museum in Iceland but no vagina equivalent anywhere else so I decided to make one,” she said.
From 2019 to 2021, the museum was based in Camden market, before it moved to its first Bethnal Green premises in 2022, where it stayed until it closed in February this year.
Schechter said staff are “absolutely delighted to be opening our doors to the world once again”. She added: “The new Vagina Museum home is bigger and better than ever before.”
In November, only the ground floor will open because lift access is not yet available.