Entrance to the Eastern Fort Museum of Fort Gerhard in Poland (via Wikimedia Commons)

Wandering a museum can stir up all kinds of emotions. With history on display across cavernous hallways and crevices, a feeling of shared mortality may overtake visitors, igniting passions usually reserved for private spaces. 

Such is the case with one Polish museum that is asking attendees to cease all sexual activities on its premises. The historic Fort Gerhard, now known as the Eastern Fort Museum on Wolin Island, recently issued a public statement requesting that “amorous” visitors refrain from defiling its grounds. In a Facebook post from July 21, originally written in Polish, museum representatives noted that new CCTV cameras caught three couples in the act since installing them. 

“How to write it … Well, please: no ars amandi in the museum!” the post quips. “Guests in love, please understand — most of the exhibits in our museum are objects ‘born’ many years ago and subject to completely different moral standards … We do not expose them to discomfort!”

The post acknowledges that “unique exhibits and uniformed service” may excite people but that “records are reviewed before deletion, and after all, not all those captured on camera want their love to be watched by outsiders.” It adds that the cameras are only active “in the museum, the reflector barrack, and the exhibition of items from the wreckage.” 

A screenshot of Fort Gerhard’s Facebook post pleading with visitors to refrain from sexual acts on its grounds (screenshot by Hyperallergic via Facebook)

The news quickly spread across Poland, Europe, and the United States. Commenters quipped, “Make love not war!” and “Colleagues ask for a link with the recording! Nothing is more exciting than the sight of a cannon!” Others argued that “the social media workers should get a raise, because no museum in the world has had such a promotion yet.”

Built in the mid-19th century by the Prussian Empire, Fort Gerhard was originally part of the Świnoujście Fortress used by the Prussian army and then the German Kriegsmarine until 1945, including during the Nazi occupation. Since its public opening in 2001, the museum has hosted a permanent exhibition of uniforms, weapons, and war paraphernalia from throughout its history. It remains one of the best-preserved Prussian forts in Europe, attracting about 45,000 visitors per year.

“Nothing is more exciting than the sight of a cannon,” one commenter quipped in response to the museum’s request.

The museum did not respond to Hyperallergic’s multiple requests for comment, but Fort Gerhard director Piotr Piwowarczyk recently speculated in Polish media outlet Gazeta Wyborcza that the museum’s erotic reputation might stem from an “illusion of intimacy” in its dimly lit corners, or perhaps an unseen aura.

“The atmosphere in the fort is dark, with many nooks and crannies,” Piwowarczyk said. “Lovers do not think that cameras reach everywhere … Maybe it’s a chakra? Maybe this place activates energy in the area of ​​the body that is responsible for sex?”

Public sex is illegal in Poland, potentially resulting in “arrest, restriction of liberty, a fine of up to PLN 1,500, or a reprimand,” according to the Code of Petty Offenses. While the museum refuses to release any recorded footage, management rather cheekily recommends “taking a walk toward the wild beaches, which are abundant on the right bank of Świnoujście.”

Billie Anania is an editor, critic, and journalist in New York City whose work focuses on political economy in the cultural industries and the history of art in global liberation movements.