RUBBERS: the Life, History & Struggle of the Condom


Quite some time ago I published an article about the history of condoms in Japan in particular, and the history of condoms in general. Next year New York’s Museum of Sex on Fifth Avenue will be holding an exhibition called: RUBBERS: the Life, History & Struggle of the Condom.

The condom exhibition is organized in partnership with the makers of Trojan Brand Condoms one of the leading brands in the US.

Opening on February 4, 2010, this exhibition takes a fun, functional, and fundamental look at the history and progression of the condom from a single object to its role a multidisciplinary artifact:

Influencing everything from science to art to politics and religion, the condom, which has remained at the epicenter of debate since its inception, rose from its humble beginnings to become a barometer of morality and a savior in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Ribbed, flavored, and studded, condoms have undergone a monumental transformation from their early linen incarnations to being practically customizable with sizes, shapes, and textures to enhance pleasure while promoting safety.

This exhibition traces the life and history of the condom from creation and quality controlled testing to its integral role in safe sex campaigns to its historical and continued status as an emblem of both promiscuity and responsibility. Simultaneously lauded for its ability to combat the transmission of deadly diseases while also condemned by some for its contraceptive qualities, the condom has become the fore runner in moral debates regarding contraception and protection.

Through artifacts, art, photography, historical ephemera, and film, patrons will be able to explore the epic impact the condom has had upon our society, morality, and health.

RUBBERS features artifacts that cover the gamut from vintage photographs of sexually transmitted diseases to military signage campaigning for the sexual safety of soldiers to a wide array of antique condoms, tins, and dispensers. Highlights of the exhibition include conceptual art pieces such as the cruel condom, a condom crafted entirely out of chainmail and covered with spikes and Franco B’s resin condom sculpture assembled from gritty used condoms taken from the floor and trash of the infamous FIST nightclub in London.

The exhibition also includes the marriage of function and fashion with the inclusion of Adriana Bertini’s couture condom cocktail dress, made from 1200 hand dyed condoms and fashioned after the Valentino dresses of the 1960s, trendy and contemporary condoms from renowned designers such as Marc Jacobs, as well as “condiments,” functional salt and pepper shakers designed and molded after condoms.

Fortunately, the Museum lets us show some of their exhibition highlights already here and now:

Adriana Bertini’s Couture Condom Cocktail Dress
Made and images by Adriana Bertini.

Blossom by Randy Polumbo

Franco B’s resin condom sculpture
Photographed b Igor Khodzinskiy.

Cruel Condom
Belonging to the Museum of Sex collection. Design by Scott Paul.

So if you’re in New York from February 4, 2010, you’ll know what to do!

Sincere thanks to Jessica.


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