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What Vienna’s Sex Exhibition Holds For Its Visitors

Vienna wasn’t always so filled with lust as it is today. It has a long and treacherous history of how it’s inhabitants treated sexuality. It’s a story about repression and freedom. A lot of desires could be embraced freely while others had to be repressed and hidden behind curtains, like homosexuality. This story stretches from ancient times until today. Recently, an exhibition has opened in Vienna called Sex in Vienna – Lust. Control. Disobedience. It talks about the long road sexuality has taken to become as openly embraced by people as it is today.

The entire exhibition describes how society and culture have changed in Vienna since the 19th century. It shows how the state, the police, and lectures weren’t able to control people and stop them from embracing their freedom within their bedrooms, dark corners and secret places. As the city became larger, more advanced and more populated, it offered anonymity. People had more ways out of the social control mechanisms and could better fulfill their sexual desires.

Though the same development created new possibilities for monitoring and controlling sexuality. Suddenly, a lot more sexual categories were born. The exhibition also describes the repercussions that people suffered if they got caught engaging in forbidden sexual encounters.

This exhibition has proven itself to be one of the most successful in the museum’s history. This is probably because of all the sex tourists like us.  They even had to place queue control barriers in front of the entrance due to the astonishing popularity.

Things to See

The exhibition has numerous postcards, posters, dirty advertisements, movie clips and numerous artifacts. You could easily find fancy vibrators from around 1910 that were confiscated by the police. There were even various condoms made from sheep and other animal’s intestines. You could also watch a three-minute clip which shows the very first female orgasms within films. It was when the wonderful Hedy Kiesler showed off naked in the 1933 movie Ecstasy.

Thanks to its uniqueness, the sex exhibition has overtaken Klimt’s popularity stakes too. It has strengthened the assumption that Vienna can easily be called the Capital of Sex. It’s an achievement to behold because very few other cities can produce such kinky literature and art. The taboo-breaking works of Vienna’s artists, like what you can see in the Leopold Museum and in Klimt’s exhibitions have definitely contributed.

The purpose of this exhibition was to reveal the true history of the city through alternative narratives. But it wasn’t about showing the role of sex in the city’s cultural development. It was rather about showing what was permitted and forbidden for the people and how the tension between the two came to change over the years. It’s a long and interesting story, filled with a lot of battles and victories.

The Importance of Prostitution

Not many European cities have prostitution so deeply embedded into the city’s fabrics. It is actually something that comes of the shock to many of the city’s visitors. Prostitution is very much visible in the city of Vienna today. As brothels are legal and are easy to come across in downtown areas.

Vienna’s history of prostitution is also shocking, as child prostitution was a great part of its culture before WW1. In fact, a few popular writers such as Peter Altenberg and Adolf Loos have shown a strong enthusiasm for underage girls.


About 60 000 people visited the museum, with the sole purpose of seeing this exhibition. It has closed on January 22, but it will hopefully open again next year. It was definitely an important exhibition that perfectly embraced the lustfulness of the city. It was an upbeat look at the Austrian geniuses that made sex in Vienna what it is today. For more information about this exhibition, please visit the Vienna Museum’s website.


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