Rude Britannia: Erotic secrets of the British Museum


According to the Times Online The British Museum and British Library have some of the biggest collections of smut in the world. They just published an informative and slightly humorous article on the contents of the so-called Porn Cupboard that begs to be read with your coworkers on your next coffee break:

Most of the Porn Cupboard’s contents today look respectable: here are printing plates for the reproduction of thoroughly decent works by Turner and Dürer. That’s because, since the latter part of the 20th century, a lot of erotic material has been removed from the cupboard and repositioned in the department. “We’ve been integrating the contents of it into the main collection,” explains Sheila O’Connell, assistant keeper of prints and drawings. For instance, there used to be a Rembrandt etching in the cupboard called The Bed, depicting a couple making love, with the man on top of the woman; but that is now with the other Rembrandts in the museum’s Department of Prints and Drawings, on the fourth floor. You can request it and, as long as nobody else is busy looking at it, they will show it to you. There used to be sheaves of banned Georgian cartoons by Thomas Rowlandson in Cupboard 205, but now, providing you have come of age, you can go to Prints and Drawings and study Rowlandson’s images of gentlemen and saucy wenches having explicit intercourse on beds, on road journeys, and beside gravestones.

The process to access these items was quite difficult. It really bugs me when the library catalog is used to impede access.

The books in the Private Case were originally subject to heavy restrictions: you had to write to the keeper, the head of the department, to see any of them and give your reasons for wanting to. “The books were quite difficult to see,” says Goldfinch. “They had a separate catalogue, and the catalogue wasn’t available to readers. So there were two stages: you’d have to ask if the book was in the collection, and if it was, you’d have to ask to see it.”

Does anyone know if Library and Archives Canada has a similar porn closet/cage/room? If so, I wonder what would be inside? Vintage Mountie pinup playing cards?

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