If you’re looking to discover Vancouver in a new light, the Museum of Vancouver’s latest exhibit, Sex Talk in the City, will give you the opportunity to do just that. While having the word “sex” in the title may give the impression that it’s going to be racy, think again. The operative word is actually “talk”, as the curators hope to encourage dialogue on Vancouver’s relationship with sexuality.
There’s nothing gratuitous or raunchy about this exhibit. It’s presented in an interactive and engaging way that’s mean to encourage dialogue about sexuality and its influence on society.
The exhibit is divided into three different zones: the classroom, the bedroom and the streets. Each area explores the public and private relationship we have with sexuality, such as sexual health, sexual identity and sex education.
The centerpiece of the “bedroom” section of the exhibit, for example, is a bed with many drawers. Visitors are encouraged to explore the drawers, which hold objects that each tells a story, from a burlesque outfit to a medal from the 1990 Gay Games in Vancouver. This interactive storytelling device was inspired by the fact that many children learn about sexuality by rummaging through the parent’s bedside tables.
An 18 person advisory committee made up of educators from the school board, scholars, historians and sexual health experts helped direct the museum’s curators.
“There will always be people who will be upset that we even bring up the topic, so if we wait to please everyone, we won’t say anything,” says Viviane Gosselin, curator of contemporary culture at the museum. “There are too many negative consequences about not talking about sex. And we’re not talking about intimate detail of our own sex lives. These are issues of social justice and human rights and sex education is a human right.”
Anyone 15 and under needs to be accompanied by an adult to Sex Talk in the City, and whether it’s a good idea to go as a family outing depends on each family’s dynamic. But Gosselin says it’s an ideal place for school groups to come and learn, considering the average student gets about an hour of sex education a year.
As for out-of-towners, Gosselin says she couldn’t think of a better way to get to know a city.
“You can never stop someone on the street and ask them to tell you about sexuality,” she says. “For people who don’t know this city, it’s an excellent and fun way to get to know it.”
Sex Talk in the City opens on Feb. 14th.
Museum of Vancouver, 1100 Chestnut St.
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