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Topic: Contraception


Reliable contraception is one of the most life-changing inventions of all time.

Contraceptive collection at Te Papa

Te Papa holds a significant collection of contraceptive devices gifted by Dame Margaret Sparrow, one of New Zealand’s leading sexual-health doctors and birth-control advocates.

Dame Margaret collected about 1000 contraceptive objects from the 1930s to 2010s. Her collection includes examples of barrier methods (e.g. diaphragms and condoms), safe sex packs, spermicides, lubricants, fertility awareness products (e.g. pregnancy tests), oral contraceptive pills, intrauterine devices (IUDs), and teaching models.

These objects can be considered part of 'hidden history', particularly women's history. Such objects rarely survive, but have a huge impact on society, fertility, sexuality, and gender relations.

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