The Kinsey Institute's extensive collection of fine art and photography documents centuries of human sexuality and exploration from around the world.
The institute's in-house gallery frequently showcases selected works from our archives, while more recent exhibitions make their way across the country on the traveling circuit.Search the Kinsey Library Catalog
For Dr. Alfred Kinsey, the study of human sexual behavior went beyond science. He also saw art, artifacts, and photographs as essential tools for researching sexual behavior and customs across time and cultures. Dr. Kinsey's collection is the heart of the Kinsey Institute's archive.
The collection has grown substantially since 1947 through generous donations from artists, collectors, private citizens, and other research institutions. This unique resource is used extensively today by scholars, artists, students, and researchers around the world. The Institute also exhibits selections of the artwork, historical artifacts, and scholarly archival materials.
The Kinsey Institute holds thousands of two- and three-dimensional works of art from around the world, including engravings, etchings, lithographs, drawings, paintings, scrolls, and sculpture. Rembrandt, Hogarth, Kunisada, Chagall, Matisse, Picasso, and Judy Chicago are just a few of the distinguished artists represented in the collection.
Objects in this category span more than two millenia. Materials range from from ancient Egyptian figurines and Roman oil lamps to Moche erotic vessals and modern birth control devices. Other items include erotic playing cards, salt and pepper shakers, greeting cards, sex toys, and novelty figurines.
The photography collection contains approximately 85,000 photographs across seven major categories: documentary, modern fine art, postcard & stereocard, George Platt Lynes, Wilhelm von Gloeden, William Dellenback, and amateur album.
"Documentary" is the largest category in the Kinsey collection with 50,000 images of Stanhopes, commercial, fine art, and amateur photographs. Featured artists include Al Urban, Bob Mizer, Maurice Seymour, Albert Arthur Allen, John Alexander Scott Coutts, and Paula Klaw.
Modern fine art
"Modern fine art" comprises thousands of prints by known photographers. They include Judy Dater, Tom Bianchi, Irving Penn, Pierre et Gilles, Herb Ritts, and Mariette Pathy Allen. Many photographs were donated to the Kinsey Institute by collectors or the artists themselves.
Postcard & stereo card (1900s–mid-1920s)
This category has more than 1,600 photographs in the 3" x 5" postcard format. Primarily produced in Paris, many of these sepia-toned and hand-colored gelatin silver prints feature a single female model (nude or wearing lingerie) in an interior setting. The institute is also home to stereo cards, cartes de visites, and cabinet cards.
George Platt Lynes (1930–1955)
During his lifetime, George Platt Lynes (1907-1955) was known as a premier portrait and fashion photographer most celebrated for his artistic representations of the male nude. The institute owns one of the largest collections of Lynes' photographs, with 590 original prints and nearly 2,000 vintage negatives.
Wilhelm von Gloeden (1878–1914)
Baron Wilhelm von Gloeden is known as the innovator of the male nude image. In 1878, the German photographer moved to Taormina, Sicily where he photographed locals in classical poses and settings to suggest a simpler, more pastoral time.
William Dellenback (1949–early 1950s)
William Dellenback worked as staff photographer for the Institute of Sex Research (ISR). The Dellenback archive contains thousands of photographs, negatives (film and glass plate), slides, and other photographic materials documenting ISR's research.
Amateur albums (mid-20th century)
Collected by individuals for personal use, the amateur albums contain photographs, clippings, and other printed materials. Content varies with snapshots from cross-dressing parties, commercial erotic photographs, and portraits of female impersonators.
The Kinsey Institute holds thousands of treasures. Our Traveling Exhibit Program ensures that you have a chance to see them by partnering with museums and galleries around the world.
Recent exhibits have included shows at Cooper Union, Columbia College's Glass Curtain Gallery, Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, and WEAM Miami. Future exhibitions are planned in Indianapolis, Chicago, and Berlin.
For the latest information on current or upcoming traveling exhibits, visit our News and Events page.
Sexuality, love, and relationships are essential to our individual and collective well-being. Your support will help ensure the historical preservation of our library and special collections and also give a diverse field of sex researchers continued access to the resources they need to make new discoveries.Pledge your support