Press release

Sex by Numbers: Wellcome Collection launches a national Sexology Season

Wellcome Collection is launching 'Sex by Numbers' - an interactive infographic that playfully maps the nation’s sex lives, from who with to how often - to mark the start of an eclectic national season on sexology.

Developed by creative agency Nice and Serious, Sex by Numbers uses data from three National Surveys of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal), allowing users to explore key statistics around sex in the UK from the last 20 years. A book of the same name, by statistician David Spiegelhalter, has been commissioned by Wellcome Collection and will be published by Profile Books in spring 2015. It promises to unravel the web of exaggerations, misdirections and downright lies that surround sex in modern society.

The Sexology Season itself began last week in Manchester (until 30 March) and will continue with major programmes in Brighton (2-30 March) and Glasgow (1 May-4 June), as well as events taking place in London at Wellcome Collection and The Institute of Sexology exhibition. The programmes delve into sexology research and how it affects people’s attitudes and behaviours, exploring just some of the themes and issues around the study of sex - sexuality, gender, masculinity, female pleasure, sexual health, porn addiction, and sex and ageing.

Manchester-based events include a show about two sisters and their very different experiences of sexuality; 'Frocks and Sex', a salon looking at the relationship between sensuality, fine art and high fashion; and a debate taking a closer look at the varied impacts of sexual stereotyping.

Some Sexology Season events will be repeated across several locations, such as 'What Tammy Needs to Know About Getting Old and Having Sex', a musical revue by Lois Weaver in her alter ego Tammy WhyNot, and Christopher Green’s new production 'Prurience', a piece of experiential theatre about addiction to pornography. Similarly, Sick! Festival is expanding to Manchester for the first time and will feature performer and Wellcome Trust Public Engagement Fellow Brian Lobel’s new show 'Sex, Cancer and Cocktails', an intimate, in-home conversation about doing it during treatment.

The season also includes Sounds of Sexology, a songwriting project in which young people from five regional hubs have been composing and penning lyrics inspired by their responses to recent sexology research, including Natsal-3. The workshops will culminate in a performance (with special guest Dan Gillespie Sells from The Feeling) at the Roundhouse on 17 February as part of Roundhouse Rising, a festival of emerging music talent, and will be live streamed so anyone can watch online for free.

Sexology Season dates and details

20 November 2014-20 September 2015
'The Institute of Sexology' is a candid exploration of the most publicly discussed of private acts. Featuring over 200 objects spanning art, rare archival material, erotica, film and photography, this is the first UK exhibition to bring together the pioneers of the study of sex. 'The Institute of Sexology' will evolve over the course of the year, with new commissions, live interventions, discussions and performances within the gallery space.

5 February-30 March 2015
A programme of 35 Manchester-based events has been developed in partnership with Contact Theatre, Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester Art Gallery, MOSI, Wonder Woman Festival, People’s History Museum, Manchester Museum, Helen Storey Foundation, Creative Tourist, The Whitworth, SICK! Festival, Joyce Layland LGBT Centre and Let’s Go Global TV/bluSci.

2-30 March 2015
The Brighton Sexology Season partner, SICK! Festival 2015, has selected sex and sexuality as one of this year’s focus themes, looking at the nature of sexual attraction, the psychology and dynamics of sexual relationships and the ways in which people define themselves and others. SICK! is also running a parallel programme in Manchester for the first time and some of these events will form part of the Manchester Sexology Season.

1 May-4 June 2015
Glasgow’s Sexology Season partners are Glasgow Women’s Library, The Arches (Behaviour Festival), confab, Fun Palaces, Aye Write Festival and Tramway. A strong sense of the city’s heritage and character informs the 35 Glasgow-based events - for example, a poetry 'sex in the city' walk will take in sites of violence, prostitution and romantic assignations.