‘The Final Member’: The Wacky Race to Get A Human Penis in Iceland’s Phallological Museum
Iceland is home to many wonders. Volcanic mountains. The Blue Lagoon. Musical acts Björk, Of Monsters and Men, and Sigur Rós. Four-time “World’s Strongest Man” winner Magnús Ver Magnússon. The evil ice hockey team in D2: The Mighty Ducks.
It also has the distinction of hosting the world’s only penis museum.
Located in Húsavik, a tiny waterside town about 50 km below the Arctic Circle, The Iceland Phallological Museum boasts the world’s largest display of penises—and penile parts. The collection consists of 280 specimens from 93 species, including foxes, pigs, and walruses. The biggest penis on display is that of a sperm whale, measuring 5 feet 7 inches and weighing 154 pounds—and that’s just the tip. The smallest item in the museum is the penis bone of a hamster, which measures less than 2 mm and has to be observed via microscope. There’s the penis of a Cave Bear, a species that became extinct 10,000-15,000 years ago, as well as the alleged penises of Huldufolk (Icelandic elves) and trolls.
“I’ve got specimens from all mammalian species, except one: a proper human,” says museum curator Sigurdur “Siggi” Hjartarson. “Without the human, the collection is not complete.”
Siggi’s mission to find a human penis to complete his collection is given the documentary treatment in The Final Member. Directed by Jonah Bekhor and Zach Math, the hilarious film—which has no release date yet—begins by tracing the history of the museum.
According to Siggi, his penis collecting “started as a joke” when, at the age of 33, the former Spanish and history teacher was gifted a bull’s penis by a fellow teacher in 1974. More friends gifted him penises, and he began amassing a private collection in his home to entertain guests.
“It was shocking for people to come into his home,” says Siggi’s brother, Reynir Hjartarson. “He had filled up his whole house with all types of penises in formaldehyde. He wasn’t afraid of what other people thought.”
“More and more penises kept coming into the house,” adds Siggi’s wife, Jona Sigurdardottir. “Then it just got out of control. We all told him he had to open a museum… It was great. There was more space at home.”
The Iceland Phallological Museum opened its doors on Aug. 23, 1997—Siggi’s birthday. The museum would both show off his collection of phalluses and inform and educate people to help, he says, “decrease taboos about the human body, and this organ.”
In addition to mammal phalluses and penis parts preserved in formaldehyde, Siggi has crafted several fun items on display, including a wooden penis gavel, a giant wooden penis that opens to reveal a mini travel bar, and his prized “Christmas Cutlery”—silverware with wooden handles shaped like penises. He’s also made four bowties from the penis skin of a sperm whale for him, two of his relatives, and another man: Pall Arason.
A nonagenarian and self-described “adventurer” who helped bring tourism to Iceland’s highlands, the Icelandic Arason has decided to donate his penis to Siggi and the museum upon his passing. Siggi is particularly excited about displaying Arason’s penis since the elderly gent claims to be, in addition to an “adventurer,” Iceland’s biggest ladies man.
“Some people say he’s the greatest womanizer in the history of the country,” Siggi says of Arason, who later claims he’s been with “every kind: black, yellow, white… but never an Eskimo.” Arason even carries along a little book with him that he wrote in “every time I got laid.” He claims the book has about 300 names in it—not counting prostitutes.
In order to donate your penis to the museum, Siggi has two requirements: the first is a legal document (letter of donation) signed by three witnesses, and the second is proof that the penis is a “legal length” of at least 5 inches. Siggi based the minimum requirement on an old Icelandic folk tale called “A Legal Length,” whereby a woman requested a divorce from her husband on the grounds that his penis was not 5 inches in length, but only three. “One in the hair, one in the skin, and a third, and a fourth, and a fifth one in,” the woman says in the story. “Now that’s what I call action. That’s legal length for you, my good man!” Arason submitted his letter of donation on May 17, 1996, and Siggi has an empty bottle hung on the wall for the penis with a sign that reads: “Mr. Arason’s Future Resting Place”—“if he fits that [bottle],” says Siggi with a chuckle.
Siggi has his doubts, however, when it comes to Arason’s length. The museum tried to make a cast of his penis, but the procedure went awry. Plus, the year is now 2010, and Arason shows no signs of passing anytime soon. Since the 70-year-old Siggi’s health is in decline, he’s anxious that he won’t be able to complete his collection in his lifetime.
Enter Tom Mitchell. A kooky middle-aged American who runs a horse farm in the Santa Ynez Mountains in California, Mitchell is eager to have his penis be the first one on display at the museum that he’s willing to amputate himself while he’s still alive.
“He calls his penis ‘Elmo’ and is extremely well-endowed,” boasts Siggi. Arason’s is pushing 5 inches, while Tom’s is about 7 inches in length “with a great girth.”
“I’ve always had a dream of not only Elmo being placed on display in a public place, but as a result, possibly some fame and fortune—not for myself, but for Elmo,” says Mitchell. “I’ve always said it would be really cool for my penis to be the world’s first true penis celebrity.”
Mitchell becomes obsessed with beating Arason into The Iceland Phallological Museum. We see the kooky American getting a tattoo of an American flag on the tip of his penis. He even hires a professional designer to make a fancy display case for Elmo at the museum, and wants to develop a comic book called The Amazing Adventures of Elmo, featuring his penis in a cape that will, he says, “conquer evil and see the world.”
Siggi is torn. He wants his countryman Arason’s penis to be the one displayed, but there are the “legal length” concerns, and time is of the essence. And Mitchell’s is a bigger phallus, but the American starts to become a huge pain in the ass, sending Siggi several emails a day about the plans, and making detailed demands about the way his penis will be displayed at the museum—right down to the type of wood for the case. He even asks Siggi if he could have his penis back in the offseason, during winter.
Thanks to a lingering medical issue—Mitchell has strictures in his scrotum that hamper his ability to pee—doctors have medical grounds to conduct the surgery on him. The thrice-divorced American also, it’s later revealed, has an ulterior motive for his “donation.”
“I finally realized that I’m incredibly attracted to women, and it’s so easy for them to take advantage of me… I’m so vulnerable to women, and at this point, I need to do what I can to make myself immune to the distractions and emotional loss and drain of energy,” says Mitchell.
However, Siggi soon becomes so annoyed by Mitchell’s daily emails, some multiple pages in length, he stops responding, and Mitchell decides to check out “other venues to display Elmo.”
Five months later, Arason passes away at 95. The year is 2011, and Siggi finally has his penis. The museum curator is so overwhelmed with emotion, he cries while driving to the hospital to pick it up. There, two of Arason’s relatives present his remains to Siggi in a gift box, tied with a bow. One of the family members proceeds to read a short poem he wrote for the occasion:
“A famous penis here we have / That for a long time will be preserved. / Pall has now passed away / But he is not nearly forgotten. / On the seas of his victorious life, / His wide open sails kept him going non-stop. / While someone adores boldness, / Pall’s reputation will live on.”
Siggi returns home and opens the box.
“Great… Fantastic…,” he says. “This is not so small…for a 95-year-old!”
It measures out to exactly 5 inches: legal length.
During The Final Member’s closing credits, it’s revealed that Mitchell is working on a comic book called Elmo—Adventures of A Superhero Penis. Meanwhile, 2011 was Siggi’s last year as curator of The Iceland Phallological Museum. It was also his most successful, with 11,346 visitors from all over the world who came to see his mammalian phallus collection, made complete by Arason’s human specimen.