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Size matters: inside Iceland’s crazy cock museum

If you’re up on old school British slang, you’ll know that one definition of ‘cock’ is ‘nonsense’, the example given in the Oxford Dictionary being: ‘that’s all a lot of cock.’ Well, a lot of cock is exactly what the Icelandic Phallological Museum deals exclusively in – and rather than falling in line with the British colloquialism, it’s a place of great, eye-watering wonder.

Originally opened in 1997 by historian Sigurdur Hjartarson with just 34 specimens, the collection has grown exponentially and the museum now houses almost 300 penises of all shapes and sizes. It features every Icelandic land and sea mammal – including a human – as well as several foreign species.

Hjartarson’s first contact with an animal penis happened many years ago. “As a child I was sent into the countryside during summer vacations and was given a pizzle [a bull’s penis] as a whip for [rounding up] the animals,” he explains.

But it was when he later worked as a school headmaster that his phallus fascination began to grow. “Some of the teachers used to work in a nearby whaling station and they started bringing me whale penises, supposedly to tease me. [I gradually began to think] that it might be interesting collecting specimens from more mammalian species.”

Originally the locals weren’t happy with Hjartarson’s cock collection and branded him a taboo breaker. However, since his son Hjörtur became curator in 2011 he’s transformed the museum into one of Reykavik’s top tourist attractions. In a recent interview, Hjörtur admitted, “It all started as a joke… he always said somebody had to do it. [And now it’s somewhere] you can get educated and at the same time have some fun.”

While the most miniscule organ on display is a mouse’s, and the most exotic a giraffe’s, the crowning glory of the exhibition is preserved in formaldehyde at the museum’s entrance, a sperm whale phallus – which measures a massive 5ft 6inches and weighs 165lbs.

In addition to the preserved and pickled penises, there’s a section of the museum dedicated to several hundred genital-themed, artistic oddities. These range from a carved wood table lamp to a raunchy silver sculpture featuring 14 erect cocks called ‘The Icelandic National Handball Team’ – in recognition of their silver medal victory at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

Of course no museum would be complete if it didn’t have a store, and theirs is bulging with regular merchandise such as t-shirts, caps, and shot glasses, as well as designer condoms, and at the more humorous end of the range, cock ’n’ ball shaped salt and pepper shakers and hand-knitted willy warmers – choose from an elephant or a snake.

If you ever find yourself in Reykavik with time on your hands, get on down to The Icelandic Phallological Museum situated at Laugavegur 116, 105 Reykavik. Although the museum houses members only, it’s open to the general public every day from 10am – 6pm.


About the author:

UK-based artist Billy Chainsaw specializes in mixed-media pop art and has exhibited in numerous galleries in such far-flung locations as London and Los Angeles. Learn more about his work at

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