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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. 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


Giamster, David (September 2000). "Sex and Sensibility at the British Museum" (). History Today (History Today) 50 (9): 10–15. Retrieved 2006-10-16.  

Coordinates: 51°31′08″N 0°07′37″W / 51.519°N 0.127°W / 51.519; -0.127

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