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Secret Museums

Throughout the ages, erotic art has been created by some of the world's best-known artists, but it is rarely on public display. Whether it is held in private collections, or kept under lock and key in museums and libraries worldwide, erotic art and literature remains censored. But when graphic, even extreme sexual imagery is freely available on the Internet, why is erotic art considered so dangerous that it must be prohibited?

Filmed in England, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the U.S., SECRET MUSEUMS explores the locked rooms, warehouses, museum cellars, bank safes and private homes where erotica is hidden, from the British Museum and the National Library of France to Munich's National Graphics Collection and the Vatican, home of the world's largest collection of pornography. Gaining access to carefully guarded collections with names such as 'Secretum,' 'Gabinetto Segreto' and 'L'Enfer,' the film reveals books and images never before filmed or photographed.

SECRET MUSEUMS features interviews with wealthy collectors, museum curators and guides, librarians, authors, gallery directors, art restorers and experts in erotic art, who discuss the reasons for the cultural suppression and control of erotic art; how institutional gatekeepers, as the protectors of public morality, decide what is acceptable; the difficulty of some in accepting sexuality as an appropriate subject for art; the compulsion to assemble private collections; and how many erotic masterpieces remain hidden today.

'This smartly made documentary on erotica lays out the naked truth about man's classic love affair with affairs of the flesh... Voyeurs and peeping toms of all factions will be on the edge of their seats.' -Robert Waldman,

'A brilliant documentary [that] is at times like a graduate seminar broaching issues about ethics, public space and cultural memory, preservation and archival energy... A 'must-see' for anyone interested in the discussion of the nature of power and knowledge.' -Review Vancouver

'A surprisingly sophisticated film.' -Vancouver International Film Festival

*** 'A fine introduction to an area of art history not covered in standard sources, this is a serious, thoughtful, and interesting documentary.' -Video Librarian


Main credits

Woditsch, Peter (film director)
Woditsch, Peter (screenwriter)
Woditsch, Peter (editor of moving image work)
Leysen, Johan (narrator)
Schoukens, Sophie (film producer)
Roekens, Jan (film producer)

Other credits

Producers, Sophie Schoukens & Jan Roekens; camera, Remon Fromont; editing, Luc Plantier, Peter Woditsch; music, Vladimir Martinka; research Peter Woditsch, Ghislaine Peeters.

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

Cultural Anthropology
Cultural Studies
Human Sexuality


art; museums; galleries; private collections; auctions; erotica; censorship; Pompei; L'enfer; the secretum; Vatican; "Secret Museums"; Icarus Films

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