It really is time for the talk.
With the Science of Sexuality exhibit having opened on Jan. 25 at The Museum, visitors will be able to learn about sexuality on multiple levels, with one important message – positivity.
The exhibit – originally called Sex: A Tell-All Exhibition – was developed in 2011 at the Montreal Science Centre. Now premiering at The Museum – its fifth location – the exhibit has received generally positive feedback from viewers of all ages.
“A common denominator started coming out. While it was developed for those 13 and up, everyone was going to see it,” said David Marskell, CEO of The Museum. “What we’re all about is going beyond the exhibit and focusing on the dialogue, and our advertising is ground in ‘it’s time for the talk.’ What we hope is that there will be smart discussion about being responsible.”
The exhibit is split up into five “zones,” and it begins with, for lack of a better phrase, the beginning.
“This lays it out in a positive, respectful and frank way, and it might help some teachers and parents who might be awkward themselves, because the teacher can just let them roam,” Marskell said. “This isn’t a guided tour, you go on your own.”
The My Origins zone shows new life and answers that question many kids ask: where did I come from? The zone is complete with an understanding of the science of conception, all the way to the birth of a child.
The second zone, Me, is lined with life-size images of both nude males and females, from infancy to elderly. The zone is meant to emphasize the changing body, and how everyone has a different body.
“One of the key things about this exhibit is that people feel normal, no matter what they are or what they feel,” Marskell said. He added it is designed to help teens understand that sometimes, not everything is perfect.
The Me & You zone focuses on one’s interaction with another person on a sexual level. A video about what happens during a sexual encounter can help people at any age understand their own anatomy as well as that of the opposite sex. Flirting and love are also some key topics in this zone.
Me & Others covers a much more vague topic – what to do in the case of pregnancy or diseases and infections, and who to talk to. The importance of this zone is to understand that as long as the necessary precautions are well thought through, sex can be incredibly healthy for both mind and body, but there can be consequences to ignoring them.
My Point of View allows visitors to leave a message about what they know and how they feel about the exhibit, or even just about sexuality in general.
The exhibit is rich with interactive machines – a line of buttons, each with a different question, can be pressed, resulting in a real doctor answering your question. These can be answered in English or French, as the entire exhibit is bilingual.
“If you stick your arm in this hole here, it’s a sensory thing – I think it’s supposed to give your arm a certain feeling,” said Andrea Carvalho, a volunteer at The Museum.
The exhibit is laid out for learners of all types, with video, audio and sensory materials.
The main message for young and old is that knowledge about sex and sexuality can ensure a safe and fun experience, and that, while everyone has the right to be shy personally, they also have the right to speak up.
“It’s the most under-discussed topic – it’s such a ubiquitous thing – but everyone can relate to sex,” Marskell said, “but nobody will talk about it.”