Secretum (British Museum)  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Secretum was a name given to Cupboard 55 in the Department of Medieval and Later Antiquities at the British Museum, London. It previously contained the collection of ancient erotica given to the museum by George Witt (1804–1869), physician and collector of phallic antiquities. Inaccessible by the public, it was a repository for exhibits of an erotic nature.

All the objects previously held in the Secretum have now been integrated into their respective cultural collections (though claiming to be from ancient cultures, many of them were in fact Victorian fakes and so are now kept off display for this reason rather than for their obscenity), and the museum's attitudes to material previously deemed to be obscene has now changed, as shown by the Warren Cup.

Appearances in popular culture

The Secretum may be the inspiration for the "secret annexe" of the British Museum, the base of operations for The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen in the eponymous series of comics.

In issue 2 of the first volume, after acquiring Dr. Jekyll, Campion Bond dispatched Mina Murray, Allan Quatermain, and Captain Nemo. The three stay the night, and Miss Murray manages to capture him while he rapes Pollyanna. They return him to the League headquarters at the Secret Annexe of the British Museum, where in exchange for a pardon for his crimes, a search for a cure to his invisibility, and a large sum of money, Griffin agrees to join the League.

Exhibits there include a yahoo skull (from Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels) and statues labelled "Cult of Ayesha" (from H. Rider Haggard's She), continuing the high game of literary allusions throughout the series.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Secretum (British Museum)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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