Friday, 11 February 2011

Birds, Bees & 'Stuffed' Sexual Energy - Natural History Museum

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Exhibition: Natural History Museum, London 
Sexual Nature, February 11 – October 2 2011

The Natural History Museum, London, has put on its long overcoat and taken pride of place in the bushes to become a  peeping tom into the sex lives of animals. A new exhibition, 'Sexual Nature', launches today - just in time to cater for romantic valentine dates. It's been touted as a great place to visit with your loved one, to take a voyeuristic peep behind the curtains, and learn about the birds and the bees.

(Photo: Rabbits Mating - Getty Images)

Stuffed Sexual Energy

After the red neon sign spelling out the word 'sex' the first thing that strikes you is the three specially commissioned displays of mating foxes, rabbits and hedgehogs. If you've ever wanted to compare notes with a british cassanova then this is the time. The gold medal has to go to the hedgehog - who, after a prickly start, uses a vaginal plug to prevent other conquests of his mate. His semen sets solid inside the female while the sperm swim to victory. These Kama Sutra 'mounts' are bound to get your pulse racing (well, if you're into that sort of thing), so take a few minutes to relax as you watch Isabella Rossellini's 'Green Porno'. Screens around the exhibition show the Italian film actress dressed up as animals and acting out their mating rituals, including that of Roman snails who fire love darts at each other in an astonishing game of foreplay. These darts contain hormones that influence certain parts of the genitals, and improve the reproductive chances of the snail who fired it - a little like giving someone a pair of beer googles and a dose of viagra!

(Photo: Guy the Gorilla - NHM)

No thrills for a Guy

Feeling a little inadequate due to all the 'stuffed' sexual energy? Don't worry as you can compare the number of notches on your bed-post against that of the unfortunate Guy the Gorilla - one of the museums most famous residents. He would have been alpha male in the wild - but instead he failed to mate successfully in London Zoo's captive breeding programme. Having a bunch of scientists critique your style for 30 years is sure to put even the most amorous off.

Ofcourse, 'Sexual Nature' is not all thrills and giggles, like any good NHM exhibition it also calls on the discoveries of Charles Darwin. During his Beagle voyage he was particularly taken by the feather patterns of the male Argus pheasant whose beautiful spotted and striped feathers are only shown during courtship display. To Darwin they were an important piece of evidence helping him to understand the difference between natural selection and sexual selection.

I hope you enjoy what is surely another top show from our finest institution.

- Paul
Book tickets and find out more on the NHM 'Sexual Nature' website
Watch a video of the exhibition on the BBC website.

You can also read my 'Love Letter to the Natural History Museum' and
'Love affair with the Natural History Museum'.
(Photo: Argus Pheasant - Paul Williams)


  1. Thanks - what a fab review! Can't wait to go. X

  2. Lee Richardson14/02/2011, 17:42

    Cool - love darts. Where can I buy some!?

  3. I love 'Green Porno'. I have it in my favourites on You Tube :)

  4. Do they have a display on Penis Fencing? Flatworms do it. I always have a funny image in my head ;-)