About the exhibition
It is possibly the first time in the history of the National Museum that we do not recommend an exhibition to visitors under eighteen. This despite the fact that smoking, alcohol, drugs and hazardous sex are exactly the topics that might interest young people, and they may want to know more about them. May they forgive us this time. The exhibition is aimed at adults who have common sense; but, hand on heart, do they really?
The exhibition does not dictate, preach or moralize; it provides illustrative information, experiences and feelings expressing the breadth and depth of this issue. Its foundation is the permanent predicament of our civilization, which is a balance between rational and irrational behaviour.
18+ We do not recommend entrance to persons under 18 years of age
This exhibition does not intend to rail against smokers, alcoholics and other drug-addicted people. Prohibition has not eliminated alcoholism, smoking bans will not rid people of the craving to have a puff on a cigarette, and excluding drug-addicts from society will not free them from their addiction.
If we are not reasonable, we will (perhaps) be dead...
When we show with organic exhibits what lung cancer, liver cirrhosis or syphilitic bone changes look like, our intention is not simply to show something shocking. These are the possible extreme results when excess, desire and addiction win over self-control.
When we put in a showcase a series of older licentious pieces - a Japanese woodblock print illustrating a line of sexual deviation and a huge phallic symbol in the form of a ritual object, we highlight the differences between a kind of pornography, lust and ancient culture.
Adrenalin activities, too, can bring needless death. We seek these with a foolish desire for an extraordinary experience. Another desire – the desire to win – has brought death to many sportspeople using doping.
Societies have been struggling with these pleasures and afflictions since times immemorial, and these historical exhibits testify to that. But many addictions have been arisen in recent times, too, in particular the electronic addiction - brutal games, cyberbullying and online pornography.
For sensitive visitors, the exhibition might provoke disturbing moral questions, possibly even panic. Yet it would be best if it encouraged a wise detachment. As Epicurus said: “No pleasure is evil in itself, but the things that produce certain pleasures entail unpleasantness many times greater than the pleasures themselves.”