World Erotic Art Museum
Located in Miami Beach, the World Erotic Art Museum was established by Naomi Wilzig in 2005. Wilzig, who passed away in 2015, traveled the world collecting erotic art pieces. Her collection is one of the largest collections of erotic fine art in the world. WEAM is open only to adults and offers exhibits drawn from its collection of over 4,000 pieces of erotic fine art from 300 BCE to the present. Works in collection span a huge variety of cultures and media. While there are several museums dedicated to the interpretation of sex, this is the only museum in the United States devoted exclusively to erotic fine art.
Backstory and Context
Naomi Wilzig began collecting exotic art in the 1980s, when her son, Ivan, asked her to purchase some conversation pieces for his apartment. Wilzig was a longtime antiques collector, though the world of erotic art was new to her. When the first exotic artworks Wilzig procured were rejected by her son, she kept them for her personal collection. Wilzig quickly came to enjoy hunting for new erotic works, and started expanding her circle, travelling around Europe and beyond to find new works. Her home became a veritable Mecca of erotic art, with friends and neighbors frequently bringing visitors by to see the works. In the early 2000s, Wilzig published two books detailing her collection. These volumes attracted the attention of Musée de l’Erotisme, a Parisian museum dedicated to the erotic. The Museum expressed interest in partnering with Wilzig to create a museum. However, after several months of attempting to find a location, the partnership collapsed due to ideological differences.
Wilzig continued searching for a museum space on her own time after her partnership with Musée de l’Erotisme ended. She proposed placing her new museum in several locations, though many cities denied the plans, fearful that the Museum would attract the wrong sort of crowd. Ivan noticed a vacant space in Miami Beach and referred his mother to it. Wilzig rented the space and by 2005, the World Erotic Art Museum (WEAM) opened to the public. Wilzig was granted an honorary doctorate from Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco and published five books about her collection.
Though Wilzig passed away in April of 2015 at the age of 80, her Museum continues.
With over 20 rooms filled with over 12,000-square-feet of artwork, WEAM spans a wide range of mediums, time periods, and cultures. Objects in the collection include paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, textiles, furniture, and ceramics. Works date from antiquity and pre-Columbian to present day. Art objects come from all over the world; works from the canon of western and non-western art are equally well represented. One of the most famous items on display is a large example of a male appendage that served as a prop in Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 film “A Clockwork Orange.”
WEAM challenges the notion that erotic art and pornography are interchangeable terms. Wilzig was firmly committed to the idea that erotic art maintains all the legitimacy of traditional fine art, and should be treated as such. Though many artists in the collection are more obscure, works by names as recognizable as Shiele, Klimt, Dali, Picasso, Mapplethorpe, and Rembrandt are included. In fact, in 2011, WEAM premiered the first United States exhibition of rare erotic Rembrandt etchings. WEAM offers a combination of academic events, cultural programs, and a variety of workshops and classes. The Museum aims to engage the local community and become the home for Miamians to explore topics related to human sex and sexuality.
About: Mission Statement. WEAM. . Accessed September 18, 2018. http://weam.com/about.php.
Cohen, Howard. Naomi Wilzig, owner of World Erotic Art Museum on Miami Beach, dies at 80. Miami Herald. April 07, 2015. Accessed September 26, 2018. https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/obituaries/article17797463.html.
Espinal, Jannely. This Hidden Museum On A Florida Beach Is Basically The Smithsonian of Kink, Narcity. May 8th 2019. Accessed November 18th 2020. https://www.narcity.com/en-us/things-to-do/miami/the-world-erotic-art-museum-is-an-education-and-art-center-featuring-fine-erotic-art-from-all-around-the-world.
Legacy, Claire. The World Erotic Art Museum, Claire Legacy Art. March 10th 2020. Accessed November 18th 2020. https://www.clairelegacyart.com/blog/the-world-erotic-art-museum.
Maxwell, Nancy Kalikow. Naomi Wilzig, Founder of Erotic Art Museum, Dies at 80 Read more: https://forward.com/culture/218284/naomi-wilzig-founder-of-erotic-art-museum-dies-at/. Forward. April 09, 2015. Accessed September 26, 2018. https://forward.com/culture/218284/naomi-wilzig-founder-of-erotic-art-museum-dies-at/.
Naomi Wilzig, Founder of WEAM, World Erotic Art Museum. January 1st 2009. Accessed November 18th 2020. https://www.weammuseum.com/naomi-wilzig.
Wilzig, Naomi. Naomi Wilzig, Social Miami. Accessed November 18th 2020. https://socialmiami.com/naomi-wilzig/.
World Erotic Art Museum. Atlas Obscura. . Accessed November 18, 2020. https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/world-erotic-art-museum.
World Erotic Art Museum looks at human sexuality in all its forms, The San Diego Union-Tribune. September 14th 2015. Accessed November 18th 2020. https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/en-espanol/sdhoy-world-erotic-art-museum-looks-at-human-sexuality-2015sep14-story.html.
World Erotic Art Museum.
World Erotic Art Museum
Social Miami. Accessed November 18, 2020. https://socialmiami.com/naomi-wilzig/.