Our Lips Are Sealed: the world’s only vagina museum is forced to close

After only two years in the UK Camden markets, the Vagina Museum will exist as an online-only museum following its forced closure.

The museum will close its doors on September 24, after a selfish landlord denied extending its lease.

I am sure I am not the only one who agrees here, but I wish I had the chance to visit this unique museum. Multiple straight men would have certainly benefitted from taking the tour.

Exterior of Camden's Vagina Museum
Image: London Post

The Vagina Museum was another fun component of London’s trendy Camden borough, where vintage clothing, book shops and delicious street food is abundant.

Catching unassuming tourists and Londoners off-guard with its prime location, the museum promised to help break down the taboos and stigmas surrounding female genitalia.

The museum’s landlord, LabTech, has refused to extend the lease, despite support from Camden Council to protect it’s presence.

In 2019, the council stated it was “incredibly excited” to be home to the museum and that it would “add immeasurably to our collective understanding of our bodies.”

Unfortunately, the Vagina Museum has been unsuccessful in acquiring a lease elsewhere that provides accessibility, economic viability and commercial or cultural attributes.

Image: www.vaginamuseum.co.uk

“It feels really shitty,” Vagina Museum founder Florence Schechter stated.

Schechter told VICE that she launched the museum in 2017, after discovering there was no museum counterpart to Iceland’s Phallological Museum.

The Vagina Museum began as a series of pop-ups around the UK before finding its permanent home in Camden’s Stables Market, almost two years ago in October 2019.

Numerous property owners around the UK’s capital have considered proposals from the museum but were all gradually rejected, offering zero reasons for their decisions.

Schechter believes that “institutional patriarchy” is at play here.

Despite its short-lived presence, the Vagina Museum achieved notable success.

It received widespread praise from celebrities like Gillian Anderson, who plays a sex therapist on the Netflix show Sex Education. Not to mention, the museum’s 2019 exhibition Muff Busters: Vagina Myths and How To Fight Them had more than 110,000 visitors.

After it’s most recent exhibition Periods, 89 per cent of visitors reported that they left knowing more about the history of menstruation.

The museum’s departure also indicates another sign of increasing gentrification in the Camden area.

“I would have really liked it to be in Camden, I’m a resident and that’s why I got it in the first place. It was a local story. Lots of people are saying how Camden is getting really gentrified. Now with us gone, there’s going to be less that’s living in that rebellious Camden spirit,” Schechter said.

A spokesperson for Camden Market told a local newspaper that the museum liaised directly with the Camden Council and secured a 24-month planning permission to accommodate the museum.

Vagina Museum founder Florence Schechter in front of art from one of the museum exhibitions
Image: Daily Mail

“Unfortunately, this planning permission is due to expire and as a result we have already offered a new, larger location that fits the requirements of this business for a rental fee in line with current expectations. This offer has been declined, however, we are still happy to negotiate with the team should interest change at all,” the spokesperson added.

Until the Vagina Museum can find a new lease that is suitable for their needs, Schechter and her staff will operate from a storage unit and online.

“We’re going to act as though it was the pandemic – it gave us loads of practice on how to operate without a physical space. Doing lots of online stuff, online events,” Schecter said.