Edmonson, the curator, plans to add context and social history to the exhibit over the next few years.
Even with the current bare-bones display, the collection has attracted interest. Several professors plan to build courses around the exhibit. And students wandering through the hushed reading room invariably stop to check it out.
"With all the debate over birth control these days, I thought it was a more modern issue," said Alex Vikmanis, a junior. "But it's been such a common theme throughout history, it really shouldn't be such a big deal."
Graduate student Elizabeth Salem was so taken with the exhibit, she said she hoped to write her dissertation about it. She's studying women's history -- but rarely, she said, does the subject come alive as it does in a museum full of brutally painful, astoundingly creative or woefully ineffective contraception.
"Sometimes it's hard to picture what life was like when you're plowing through medical case histories," she said. "But when you see the objects, it's like, 'Oh, my goodness.' "