Monday, 13 February 2017

STORIES OF LOVE AND LOSS AT THE MUSEUM: THE MUSEUM OF BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS

MUSEUM MONDAYS 

BY: EMMA HOFFMAN

Hey y'all! Today I'm back with a special Valentine's Day edition of Museum Mondays. Whether your V-day plans include spending some one-on-one time with your boo, telling your family and friends how much you love them, and/or practicing self-care to show yourself some love, join me this Monday for quick power-walk through the history of heart day and a visit to the Museum of Broken Relationships.

This was too appropriate. Source.
From the seasonal decor aisle at your local dollar store to the proliferation of diamond commercials on T.V., the facade of love has been used and abused to advertise chocolate, candy, and sparkly things. Despite this, Valentine's Day's origins are in fact not found in consumerism. The ancient Roman fertility festival: Lupercalia, was appropriated by the Catholic Church and turned into "Saint Valentine's Day". The saint-day memorialized Saint Valentine of Rome: a priest who was executed for performing marriages for people who were prohibited from tying the knot, for a variety of reasons. In Europe, Valentine's Day notes and letters were first exchanged during the fifteenth-century, and this trend transformed into the act of exchanging Valentine's Day cards that has remained popular throughout the past few hundreds of years.

Source.
Now that we know that Ancient Roman parties, martyrs, Christianity, and letter-writing have all contributed to the development of the Valentine's Day we experience today, let's check out The Museum of Broken Relationships together.

I first came across The Museum of Broken Relationships while surfin' the old 'web last year. The museum is "a global crowd-sourced project," that consists of online exhibits as well as two physical locations in Zagreb, Croatia, and in Los Angeles, California. The objects displayed are regular, everyday items belonging to everyday people, but their shtick is that these items are representative of donor's romantic relationships, break-ups, and heartbreak. The objects are donated to the museum's physical collection, or images of personal items can be uploaded to the museum's website.

Object from the Museum of Broken Relationships' online collection. Source.

Source.

The visitor-centred model that the Museum of Broken Relationships uses is backed by theories in current museological discourse, such as Nina Simon's 'the participatory museum'. Simon argues that the display of 'social objects' can encourage participatory experiences in museums: objects that, can engage visitors by, "tapping into pre-existing stories and connections between visitors and collections." Stories discussing matters of the heart are something that the majority of potential visitors can relate to, and therefore, an exhibit made by visitors, for visitors, can both attract visitors through the museum's active effort to make their collections relevant to visitors' lives, and can encourage visitors to participate in the experience by sharing artifacts from their own break-ups.

Although the objects and accompanying labels from the Museum of Broken Relationships can be both funny and devastating, they acknowledge the similitude between people's experiences, regardless of location, and provide an example that the people sharing their break-up stories in the Museum's exhibits are not actually alone in their feelings of loneliness.

Would you ever contribute an object to the Museum of Broken Relationships or take part in a similar participatory experience? Let me know in the comments and Happy (almost) Valentine's Day to all the readers out there.

Bonus: Nick Viall and some of the Bachelor season 21 cast at the Museum of Broken Relationships in L.A. Source.
Resources:
Hanes, E. (2013, Feb. 14). "6 Surprising Facts About St. Valentine." History. Retrieved from  http://www.history.com/news/6-surprising-facts-about-st-valentine .
Simon, N. (2011). The Participatory Museum. Retrieved from  http://www.participatorymuseum.org/chapter1/


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