The museum of WHAT??
Why in the world
. . . ?
Because there wasn't such a museum in 1994, when I
started it, and apparently
there never had been. When I - I'm Harry Finley, the
founder and director
of MUM - requested information about their companies
from the public relations
folks at Kotex and Tampax, and asked if there was such
a thing as a museum
for menstruation, they appeared stunned by the latter
question, and couldn't,
or wouldn't, supply the company information. It was
then, my moment of epiphany,
that I figured I had to do it.
Right, it didn't just come out of the blue.
As the inexperienced - and male - art director (I'm
actually an illustrator,
among other things) of a little magazine for the U.S.
government in Frankfurt,
Germany, I was collecting magazine layouts,
illustrations and advertising
in order to get ideas for designs. Part of the
thousands of tear sheets
from publications around the world that I collected
were ads for menstrual
hygiene. Taboo subject that it was and is, people in
approached the subject with vastly different degrees
This intrigued me. I started reading about the
marketing and the history
of the way people have explained and reacted to
menstruation in many of
the cultures of the world.
When I returned to the United Stated for good, I
offered the use of
the ads to several women's magazines, in case they
ever wanted to write
about the subject. I read more about the cultural
history of menstruation,
thought about it, and decided I would do the world a
favor and liven up
my life by starting the first museum.
I find the subject interesting because of its great
breadth and depth,
touching medicine, anthropology, sociology, history
and even art, and it
allows me to use my research and language abilities -
and the subject is
taboo in many cultures, which gives it added piquancy.
It also has relevance
to women's health of today.
And I also like women.
Read - and see - another reason
I started MUM,
maybe the most important.
But you're a guy
- shouldn't a woman
be doing this?
Maybe, but a woman hasn't done this, as far as I
know, apart from the
SCA Mølnlyke company
exhibit in Norway,
which is curated by a female staff member of the
museum. And it's apparently
a temporary exhibit. It started in 1995.
Someone - a woman -
suggested to me that
a man gives more credibility to the enterprise, as
offensive as that may
seem, because men generally run things in our society.
Another woman felt
that if the museum were run by a woman, she would
probably be far left in
politics, and perhaps a lesbian, thus putting off the
vast majority of the
public in two ways. The museum would be marginalized
as a feminist whim.
Remember, a woman told me that.
When I was dating in high school and college, women
baffled me. I was
shy - I was the middle of three brothers in a male and
my mother being the lone female (see FAQ 2) - and
this museum is a late attempt to understand women and
their culture, which
have always puzzled and interested me, an outsider to
that feminine world.
And as an artist, women's
faces are my favorite
By the way, I was my mother's favorite kid.
Aren't you a little
Until the art director's job in Germany,
menstruation for me was only
an impediment to sexual relations with girl friends.
Blood was and is a
turn-off for me. The taboo nature of the subject
interested me at first,
but since then I have learned that people, and
societies, look at menstruation
in all sorts of ways, which makes the subject much
Visitors to the museum have told me that even if a
woman were running
MUM, people would consider MUM (and her) strange.
Other visitors, from Ph.D.s
doing contraceptive research to psychoanalysts, have
said that anyone studying
something "down there" is regarded with suspicion. You
By the way, MUM has not at all improved my love
life, but it has vastly
increased the number of interesting people I have met,
and greatly widened
and future of
this museum | HOMEPAGE
| contact the
museum | art
of menstruation | artists
| belts | bidets | Bly, Nellie | MUM board
| books (and reviews)
| cats | company booklets
directory | costumes
| cup usage | dispensers
| douches, pain, sprays
directory | extraction
people | FAQ | humor
| huts | links | media | miscellaneous |
museum future | Norwegian
menstruation exhibit | odor
directory | patent
medicine | poetry
directory | products,
current | religion |
menstrual products safety
| science | shame | sponges | synchrony | tampon directory |
| teen ads directory |
directory | videos,
films directory | washable pads | LIST
OF ALL TOPICS
© 1998 Harry Finley. It
is illegal to reproduce
or distribute any of the work on this Web site in
any manner or medium without
written permission of the author. Please report
suspected violations to