Kinsey Institute Art Exhibit Opens in Fine Arts Center
by Adam Hawkins
March 1, 2005
Get directions to Wabash College Fine Arts Center
Wabash students, faculty and community members strolled through the Fine
Arts Gallery Monday night – perhaps shocked, maybe provoked or
embarrassed, but probably not indifferent.
Catherine Johnson-Roehr from the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University
visited Wabash to mark the opening of an exhibit of selections from the
Kinsey Institute art collection. The art collection started with Alfred
Kinsey’s research in human sexual behavior and includes artifacts,
photographs, paintings, and other trinkets acquired or donated during
Johnson-Roehr, the curator of art at the Kinsey Institute, prefaced the
art by giving brief background on Kinsey’s specific research. She
continued her presentation by showing slides of a variety of the pieces
now held at the institute.
The art collection itself, which holds more than 100,000 photographs,
sculptures, and rare trinkets depicting sexuality, started during
Kinsey’s travels around the world while he was collecting data for his
The fame of his studies and the royalties he made from his book enabled
Kinsey to travel and broaden his research by employing his masterfully
created questionnaire to subjects from various cultures, Johnson-Roehr
said. Kinsey’s research has spawned an entire new world of academia that
now studies the sexual patterns of all living creatures, and carries the
findings to other realms of science.
Kinsey, who was a professor of biology and entomology at Indiana
University, began polling students in 1938 to study human sexual
behavior. Despite outrage around the country due to the taboo subject,
Kinsey’s research gained world fame when he published his findings in
two best-selling volumes entitled Sexual Behavior of the Human Male
and Sexual Behavior of the Human Female.
As he traveled the world, individuals interested in his work began to
offer him photographs, trinkets, and other works of art connected with
human sexuality. As a result, the Institute for Sex Research started
collecting the items, and later developed an entire department devoted
to the art collection.
The Kinsey art exhibit at Wabash is the product of over a year of
discussion and preparation. The pieces on display now are divided into
two categories. One section of the exhibit houses historical depictions
of human sexuality through photographs, erotic comic books, and even old
movie posters. The other half of the exhibit displays work from
contemporary artists with several oil-on-canvas pieces and a few
From traditional and commercially produced photographs to abstract
modernism, the Kinsey Institute’s collection offers a unique opportunity
for Wabash students to examine the representations of sexuality in the
history of global culture. Students from a class taught by Prof.
Elizabeth Lee, have each picked a piece from the exhibit to analyze.
They will give presentations later in the semester on their findings.
The exhibit will remain open until Saturday, April 2. Special hours for
the exhibit are Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 4 p.m.
Hawkins is a staff member of The Bachelor, Wabash College's student
newspaper. Photos by Bachelor's Jeff Sostak
At top: Johnson-Roehr talks with art professor Elizabeth Lee
At lower left: Wabash students look at one of the paintings from the
For more information see: