Abstract

In the nineteenth century, the British Museum possessed a locked store of erotic objects. However, this did not serve to sanitize the rest of the collection. I use the evidence of an anonymous tract, Idolomania, set in the context of other literary productions of the time, to show how a wave of anti-Catholic agitation led to claims that the public displays of the British Museum were saturated with morally dangerous material. A wide range of objects, images and motifs were interpreted as evidence of pagan fertility cults, thus throwing into question the seemliness of the Museum's public displays.

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