Displayed in a glass cube, illuminated by spotlights like a diamond in the darkness of a small exhibition hall, visitors lean over to examine the object with a look of amazement. “It’s fun,” smiles Steven Warren, from Southampton visiting Iceland for the first time. “After all why not, he’s a famous character, isn’t he?” adds the sexagenarian who is even surprised not to see more prestigious phallus.

Hendrix’s erect penis artifact is displayed with a Certificate of Authenticity describing it as “a very close replica of the original 1968 version” – cast in bronze two years before the singer died of an overdose and therefore of a completely different value – now carefully preserved in a safe in the United States.

The echo in the international press, in particular specialized, would have attracted locals usually reluctant to frequent the establishment (foreign tourists represent 99% of entries) as well as several fans of the interpreter of “All Along the Watchtower” . “I like Jimi Hendrix’s music because it matches my age,” says 64-year-old Pascal Podwojewski. “It’s a part of my life, even though I was a little young when he was at the height of his glory. »

Open since 1997, the Icelandic Phallological Museum was founded by Sigurdur Hjartarson. This history and Spanish teacher in a high school in the capital, retired for almost two decades, began his collection in the 1970s, exclusively from local species. “Some of my teachers worked in the summer at a nearby whaling station and started bringing me whale penises, supposedly to tease me,” he says.

Now, some 400 specimens are preserved marinated – immersed in formalin –, dried or sculpted and exhibited to the public in this unique institution in the world, a must during a visit to Iceland.

Specimens of all kinds, of all shapes and sizes, such as the aptly named “sperm whale” in English (“sperm whale”, “grandcachalot” in French): 1.70 m enclosed in a huge tube of plexiglass. A protected species since 1985 and listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), its value is invaluable to the museum.

The human organ turns out to be probably our most inaccessible penis.

If past the entrance turnstile the first work presented contains 13 sculptures of the sexes of the Icelandic handball team that won silver at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, human penises represent only a tiny part of the exhibition. “This is our smallest section: we currently only have three specimens and only one of them is real,” says the chief phallologist. The donor, the first of its kind, is an Icelandic man who died at 95 and only came to fill the collection in 2011. “The human organ turns out to be probably our most inaccessible penis,” says Thórdarson.

If for many tourists the visit is above all a joke, the experience is also intended to be scientific in order to break taboos: forms, tortuous like that of the pig, at the waist of course or the presence of penile bones in several species . “It also reminds us a bit of where we come from. Reproduction is characteristic of all species, especially among us men. It is the basis of the transmission of the genetic heritage,” replies seriously Pascal Podwojewski, a Frenchman on vacation.

Barely installed for two years in its new premises in the heart of downtown Reykjavik, the museum will already have to push a few walls to exhibit new pieces.