Tucked away on O’Brien Road in Wan Chai is a museum that you’ve probably never even heard of: Hong Kong’s only Erotic Museum.
This museum is run by Oleg Vasilyev, owner of the largest chain of adult toy stores in Hong Kong, Take Toys, which sells every possible erotic toy you could imagine.
The Hong Kong Erotic Museum is small, but has collections from all over the world, including England, the Netherlands, Japan, Nepal, China, India, Ukraine, and North America. Exhibits include porcelain and clay sculptures, tantric deities in brass, and tenugui (Japanese towels). There are paintings, one of which was painted by a female artist using only her breasts, as well as books, photos and even a teapot shaped like a phallus.
While the museum gets a steady flow of visitors, it doesn’t get as many as the owner would like.
The old saying goes that ‘sex sells’, but not always. Adult stores are nothing new to Hong Kong; even at Temple Street Night Market you can find a block of stalls dedicated to adult toys. And all over Hong Kong you can find love hotels, karaoke dens and saunas that double as brothels; erotic magazines being sold in sidewalk stalls; and prostitution going on in plain sight at night. Yet Oleg has faced some law restrictions, according to certain exhibits which have been deemed ‘indecent’ or ‘obscene’.
One of his goals in keeping the museum going, despite the setbacks, is to confront the traditional conservative attitudes towards erotica and sensuality.
“It is seen as something shameful, sinful and embarrassing which should be expelled from our lives and not even talked about,” Oleg told Hong Kong Cheapo. “We would like to emphasise that it’s an art and it’s quite beautiful, intriguing, exciting and inspiring. So we need to bring this beauty and excitement in our everyday life.”
But this is no easy task—according to Oleg, it has been difficult just finding landlords willing to rent him the property for the museum, forcing him at one point to house the museum in one of his Take Toys shops. He is required to have a sign at the entrance stating that people under the age of 18 cannot enter the store. And Oleg has faced the stiff arm of the law, too, having to appear before the Obscene Article Tribunal.
“This makes no sense to me,” Oleg explained. “In any convenience store you can find condoms, in Watsons there are vibrators being sold, and in the MTR you frequently see large posters for condoms or pills for erectile dysfunction. All of this is in plain view of the public, and school children. So who decides what is ‘indecent’ or not?”
According to Oleg, his stores, as well as the Erotic Museum, have had to pass many inspections by the authorities, and at time he had to remove a number of his exhibits or ‘cover them up’—a requirement that he finds quite strange.
“If people under the age of 18 are not allowed to enter the store or the museum, then what is the point of covering up certain body parts on boxes, photos or exhibits, or putting a sticker with a legal warning on products? What is the point of covering up nipples in an erotic museum?”
But he is not giving up, and intends to keep the museum open. So, if you have an interest in unique items, like a painstakingly handcarved erotic snuff box, now is the time to visit the Erotic Museum, because you just never know if its doors might still be open next year.
Check out more of our picks for unique and best museums in Hong Kong.