Tallulah goes to Sex in Vienna.
Desire, Control, Transgression – an exhibition at Wien Museum, Vienna


So here we are, long time awaited and typical for Vienna, much talk about it before hand: finally the exhibition “Sex in Vienna” has newly opened at the Wien Museum right in the city centre.

I went to the opening night and was taken back when I heard one of the curators saying in her speech, that they did not want to give the exhibition a frivolous character. Life could be so often a bit more frivolous, couldn’t it? So I was wondering what is this going to be?

That evening I had no chance to see the exhibition itself; too many people where there and I wanted to take my time for all the non-frivolous sex-related pieces the curators decided to show. Just a few days later I went back and lucky me, my companion and I were right on time. Although the museum was packed we did not have to queue to get in as I heard of people who arrived later on.

What would you expect from an exhibition focusing on sex in the city, where Sigmund Freud worked most of his life before he had to flee Austria in 1938 and where Bambi writer Felix Salten located the infamous story of Josefine Mutzenbacher?

Some theoretical stuff or hands-on pieces from the court of the Habsburg’s to the hookers and hustlers of Vienna?

Go for the second guess and you won’t be disappointed. All the worries that might have arisen where gone the moment I walked in.

With every film, every photo and item that is on display here, from dildos that can be fixed on the thigh or the head invented by lesbian women, to cruising area’s, the china Emperor Franz Joseph I. gave to his long time lover Katharina Schratt, to the kerchief codes for gay men, projects of living sexuality outside of societies norms, Jewish matchmaker’s or wedding gifts for Muslim women, impressive chastity belts for boys and beautiful dresses for show girls, the show is much more than I expected and hoped for. The exhibition is build in three sections: before sex, during sex and after sex and all that reflected in the most interesting historical mirror.

One get’s a fabulous impression on what sex means in a queer and a heterosexual way, or what it meant over the last 150 years in Vienna:

What it was supposed to be and what it really was. I really enjoyed the way the curators reflected on politics, also on sexuality during the NS-system, and it gives one more than just a brief glance on the sex in Vienna. Not one moment I missed frivolity. Not at all.

What I also very much enjoyed in the exhibition was the manifold audience. It was an afternoon filled with interest in what get’s us all going but we never discuss with strangers. Often I leave exhibitions with the feeling that there was something missing. Here everything was so greatly prepared and presented, even the well written journal for visitors in English I can wholeheartedly recommend. Even if you are not Viennese, do come and visit “Sex in Vienna”. I do suggest during weekdays, if you want to avoid the crowds.

Adults only 18+

Open till 22 January 2017, Wien Museum