The Hirschfeld Exhibit: Magnus Hirschfeld and
the Institute for Sexual Science

April 27 – June 2, 2001

Portrait of Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld Stuttgart: Puttmann, 1926

Main Building of the Institute of Sexual Science, Berlin Stuttgart: Puttmann, 1930

CEPA Gallery is proud to present, in conjunction with the State University of New York at Buffalo, The Hirschfeld Exhibit: Magnus Hirschfeld and the Institute for Sexual Science. This exhibition will run from April 28 – June 2, 2001 and will open with a reception from 5:30 – 9:00 PM on Friday April 27, 2001.

Ransacking the Institute’s Library

Magnus-Hirschfeld-Gesellschaft Society

The term sexual science or sexology was established around 1900 as a field name for research and debate regarding gender and based on the study of “sexual deviations or transitions” — homosexuals, transvestites, and hermaphrodites. In response to this growing discourse, Magnus Hirschfeld opened the Berlin Institute for Sexual Science in 1919. The Institute was the first attempt at academic institutionalization of sexological research and its frame of study was biomedical research on human sexuality. About 40 people worked at the institute in various fields: research, sexual counseling, sexual enlightenment of the population, and medical treatment of sexually transmitted diseases. In addition both The Scientific-Humanitarian-Committee (the first homosexual organization) and the World League for Sexual Reform had their offices in the Institute. From the Institute’s opening it was denounced as “Jewish” and “Social Democratic” as well as offensive to public morality. In 1933 the National Socialist Party (Nazis) vandalized, looted and shut down the institute, driving its staff into exile and destroying much of its research. Because of this action by the Nazi Party all subsequent associations for sexual reform ceased operations. Hirschfeld’s research and influences in to sexology continued in the United States through the work of, friend and colleague, Harry Benjamin who used Hirschfeld’s framework for further study into transexuality. Renowned sexologist Alfred Kinsey employed Hirschfeld’s pioneering use of questionnaires in his research into the sexual behavior of men and women in the United States.

Karl Giese Teaching on the Stage of the Ernst Haeckel Auditorium Stuttgart: Puttmann, 1930

The Magnus-Hirschfeld-Gesellschaft e.V. Society, which produced this exhibition, was established in 1982 in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Institutes destruction. The exhibition consists of sixty-five panels as well as unpublished documents that offer an insight into the Institute’s work. The exhibit is divided into five sections: House, Persons, Theory and Practice, Sexual reform, and destruction and Exile. In addition the exhibition boasts a reconstruction of the famous picture wall, illustrating Hirschfeld’s sex and gender theories. It was first exhibited in Leipzig (1922) and the in Vienna (1930). The picture wall always had a prominent place in the Institute and was used to explain sexual theories to visitors.