Tour the exhibit of menstruation - the Museum of Menstruation - in my house from 1994-1998 and see a Norwegian exhibit about menstruation.
See the Wix tampon, instructions, The Fascinating Story of Wix (and another version) and store instruction sheet. See a Wix tampon store display ad.
Early commercial tampons
Ads for the Kotex stick tampon (U.S.A., 1970s) - a Japanese stick tampon from the 1970s.
Early commercial tampons - Rely tampon - Meds tampon (Modess)
And, of course, the first Tampax AND - special for you! - the American fax tampon, from the early 1930s, which also came in bags.
See a Modess True or False? ad in The American Girl magazine, January 1947, and actress Carol Lynley in "How Shall I Tell My Daughter" booklet ad (1955) - Modess . . . . because ads (many dates).
DIRECTORY of all topics (See also the SEARCH ENGINE, bottom of page.)
CONTRIBUTE to Humor, Words and expressions about menstruation and Would you stop menstruating if you could?
Some MUM site links:
homepage | LIST OF ALL TOPICS | MUM address & What does MUM mean? | e-mail the museum | privacy on this site | who runs this museum?? |
Amazing women! | the art of menstruation | artists (non-menstrual) | asbestos | belts | bidets | founder bio | Bly, Nellie | MUM board | books: menstruation and menopause (and reviews) | cats | company booklets for girls (mostly) directory | contraception and religion | costumes | menstrual cups | cup usage | dispensers | douches, pain, sprays | essay directory | extraction | facts-of-life booklets for girls | famous women in menstrual hygiene ads | FAQ | founder/director biography | gynecological topics by Dr. Soucasaux | humor | huts | links | masturbation | media coverage of MUM | menarche booklets for girls and parents | miscellaneous | museum future | Norwegian menstruation exhibit | odor | olor | pad directory | patent medicine | poetry directory | products, current | puberty booklets for girls and parents | religion | Religión y menstruación | your remedies for menstrual discomfort | menstrual products safety | science | Seguridad de productos para la menstruación | shame | slapping, menstrual | sponges | synchrony | tampon directory | early tampons | teen ads directory | tour of the former museum (video) | underpants & panties directory | videos, films directory | Words and expressions about menstruation | Would you stop menstruating if you could? | What did women do about menstruation in the past? | washable pads
Leer la versión en español de los siguientes temas: Anticoncepción y religión, Breve reseña - Olor - Religión y menstruación - Seguridad de productos para la menstruación.

"Verscheijnt maandelijks" ("Appears Monthly")
A Dutch feminist exhibit about menstruation, 1982

as reported in the Dutch newspaper "NRC Handelsblad,"
29 January 1982, and in a declaration of purpose from the exhibit

I don't know how early feminist exhibits about menstruation appeared - I suspect this was one of the earlier ones - but it's no surprise that the broad-minded Dutch staged this one in an Amsterdam gallery under the auspices of the Amazon Foundation, Stichting Amazone, I need not tell you a feminist organization. The Dutchman who sent the scans wrote:

The gallery organized exhibitions with an emancipation goal and to give women artists a place to exhibit art works related to a theme. E.g. they organized ''Vrouw en Arbeid'' (Woman and Work), "Vrouwen en Humor" (Women and Humor) etc.

As you can see yourself, it was very feminist. When I visited there were about 10-20 women and I can tell you the color red was not forgotten. There was not much publicity on the subject in papers, periodicals and so on. And the national feminist periodical "Opzij" did not mention it!

The gallery was about 5 by 10 meters. I enclose the leaflet of "Verschijnt maandelijks," one page, from the exhibit. It starts with the famous words of Gloria Steinem (see leaflet: in those days there was no Internet to check names: Steiner!) If men could menstruate, how would society be organized, etc. [Read the whole Steinem essay here.] The organizer, Elly Brink, translated them freely.

As you can read, there were several art pieces, many ads and as far as I can remember they showed a video with a women inserting a tampon and somewhere they speak of a women's house, with a bathroom dedicated to menstruation [Judy Chicago created a similar bathroom in the 1990s. She generously donated an art work to MUM, here.]

There was also an exhibition about menstruation in Germany, 1998/1999, in Darmstadt. I didn't see it but I bought the catalog. [He sent scans of the cover, which I'll add later.]

A Dutchman who visited the exhibit generously sent scans of this material, below.
Tour the exhibit of menstruation - the Museum of Menstruation - in my house from 1994-1998 - and see a Norwegian exhibit about menstruation.

The article below appeared in the NRC Handelsblad, a Dutch newspaper, 29 January 1982. Read my (Harry Finley's) translation toward the bottom of this page.
The translation of the above article lies right below the next item.
My translation of the above sheet lies at the bottom of this page. I trimmed the wide margins.
Below is Harry Finley's translation of the NRC Handelsblad newpaper article, on top:

She's painted red
by Lien Heyting

"Everything upon which she lies during her monthly impurity shall be unclean; everything also upon which she sits shall be unclean. And whosoever touches her her bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the evening."

If you're curious about more details about the periodic impurity of the woman, read Leviticus 15, verses 19-33. [Read here on the MUM site.] From the Bible we learn that one avoids menstruating women like a leper. Leviticus certainly contributed to menstruation's being a source of superstition. In some parts of our country [the Netherlands] people still believe that the proximity of a "flowing woman" cause preserves jars to burst, meat to spoil, bread not to rise, gelatin not to set, beer not to foam, milk to sour and becoming silver black. [Read about menstrual poison - menotoxin.]

Until recently menstruation was a taboo. The druggist wrapped each pack of menstrual pads in brown paper. The customer didn't ask for menstrual pads but for Nefa Blauw [see an ad], Kotex Maxi, or Modess, and with tampons for a pack of Tampax [Dutch ad], Playtex, Almira or O.B (= "Invisible Protection") [this is incorrect and a long-standing misinterpretation in the Netherlands; it really stands for "ohne Binde" - without a pad - in German, the language of the country where the brand started, Germany; more information here]. Until the middle of the 1970s the ads for pads and tampons were worded in very veiled terms ("For your intimate hygiene and security," "For your critical days"). About 1976 the word menstruation appeared for the first time; in 1977 there was still talk of loss of moisture; in 1978 the word blood loss [one word in Dutch] appeared in ads. In daily speech menstruation was preferably indicated by euphemisms: "I'm having a feast," "The flag's hanging out," "Orange above," [I believe both of these refer to the Dutch monarchy House of Orange], "Aunt Betty is visiting," "Lotje is visiting," "Granny is here," "She's painted red," "I have the rubbish." [Read more Dutch euphemisms.]

Bloody Mary

At the entrance to the Amsterdam gallery "Amazon" ("For and by women") hangs a torn tampon sculpture on the wall made by Magda van Bemmel. The sterile composition of geometrically arranged tampons are in transparent plastic mountings, on which the white strings supply a playful element.

We're at the opening of the show "Appears Monthly," an exhibit about menstruation, whereby the gallery in conjunction with sociologist Elly Brink demonstrates "what's mostly invisible": "the usual monthly goings-on around menstruation."

Besides tampons in the form of of art works, there are also cheese tampons, little appetizing round cheese sticks out of which strings dangle: cheese from the crotch.

The drinks are also appropriate to the occasion: on the dinner trays decorated with menstrual pads are glass mugs with Bloody Marys. The gallery is packed full of women, children and a single man. In glass cases lie a wide assortment of tampons (with and without applicators), menstrual pads (from the antique terry cloth pad [see an Italian version], still used by 13 percent of Dutch women to the modern adhesive strip pad) and panty pads (invented in 1976). All kinds of texts about menstruation lie on big panels: quotes from letters, ads and newspaper articles. In the section "Women speak" we can among other things read that during menstruation singers voices' change (the voice drops a little, heavier in timbre).


On the premenstrual syndrome [PMS] panel we get information about the monthly letting loose of the "beast in the woman."

When last year in England two women who committed murder got no jail time because their crime had been committed when they had PMS there was a stream of publicity in the British press (and to a lesser extent in the Dutch press) about the condition, named premenstrual syndrome by Dr. Katherine Dalton in 1953 for the physical and psychological tension caused by the upsetting of the hormonal balance. There are a number of these articles in Gallery Amazon.

The most revealing is Elly Brink's collection of menstrual pad ads. Almost all the ads show pictures of beaming, joyful, athletic, playful, self-confident young women for whom the "monthly trouble" poses no problem. The color red, blood, is always taboo in these ads. A manufacturer should never commend the absorption ability with a red-stained menstrual pad, for isn't that color always unclean? The advertiser shows rather a pad with sky-blue spots next to which a dripping fountain pen lies in order to show that we are dealing not with royal blood but with ink.

Because Amazon is a gallery there are some art works inspired by the woman's cycle. [See the menstrual art on this site.]

Ingeborg Oderwald show among other things an etching of a woman's head with a with an adhesive strip stuck on it, Mia Koeneman draws women that are mostly composed of bellies, Bibiana de Graaff realistically depicts a series of super vaginas with and without tampons, and from Marianne Zwollo, there hangs a series of abstract, gaudily toned "dream" pictures with titles like Inner Scaffolding, Ovulation and Menstruation.

However painful, secret and typically female the monthly troubles may be, the expressions of menstruation art are unfortunately the least interesting part of this taboo-breaking exhibit.

My translation of the second item, above, a single sheet at the exhibit, follows:

Appears Monthly
[a phrase normally used of publications, says the Dutch contributor of the sheet]

Exhibit Jan. 23 to March 13, 1982

How would society be set up if men, who set the rules, could menstruate and women couldn't?

"The answer is simple: menstruation would be an enviable masculine event. Men would brag about how long and how much. Menstrual pads would be free. The prestige of a brand would be linked with the names of famous people: Robert Redford tampons, Johan Cruijff Maxi pads and Koot's panty pads. . . .

"And male intellectuals would assert that science demands a sense of time, space and rhythm. How could women ever really succeed in science without that inborn sense of the cycles of the moon, the planets, without that inner sense of the universal rhythm?" *

Women however don't determine the rules in society. Therefore menstruation must be invisible and odorless but nevertheless a symbol of womanhood.

The sociologist Elly Brink has for years been writing about menstruation to make it visible. With words you can put something up for discussion but there's nothing to see.

Therefore this exhibit. Here we can see with what it means when we make menstruation invisible and odorless; the visual arts that have their own way with menstruation.

An exhibit allows to be seen what usually is invisible. But then too space is limited and we must select and the first to drop out is menstruation itself, the blood, the usual occurrences around menstruation, a menstruating woman. Taboo is the color red, the menstrual napkin, ourselves.

The social rules, which label us (from men) deviant beings.

* According to American feminist Gloria Steiner [sic], freely translated by Elly Brink [Read Gloria Steinem's original funny piece here.]

Tour the exhibit of menstruation - the Museum of Menstruation - in my house from 1994-1998 and see a Norwegian exhibit about menstruation.

© 2006 Harry Finley. It is illegal to reproduce or distribute any of the work on this Web site in any manner or medium without written permission of the author. Please report suspected violations to