Need I ask what this is? The clue is rather in the name, isn’t it! This is a museum dedicated to something almost everyone can relate to. And it doesn’t just stick to the personal. It is an ode to the end of all sorts of things: jobs, friendships, homes, ways of life. It opened in the heart of Hollywood in early June, a replica of sorts of the original in Zagreb, Croatia, which opened in 2010 and has travelled the world via pop-up gallery shows.
Broken relationships, though. Sounds depressing. Surprisingly not. A stroll around the exhibits iscaptivating. And it feels appropriate that the modern, light-filled, split-level 3,500-sq-ft space used to be home to the saucy Fredericks of Hollywood lingerie store.
How do you showcase the end of a relationship? In lots of ways. There are 103 exhibits, chosen from about 2,000 in a collection owned by both museums and sent in by people from all over the world. Each piece is accompanied by a written note from its donor explaining its provenance. There’s a boot-shaped beer mug from a man baffled as to why his girlfriend had given it to him, and a framed mirror from a woman whose Hollywood aspirations amounted to nothing while her beau became a successful screenwriter. A stuffed Peter Pan doll came from a man who felt he’d outgrown it. And, heartbreakingly, a lottery ticket donated by a Spanish man in his 60s who’d discovered his best friends had been buying tickets together, behind his back, for four decades. Everything is displayed anonymously, though.
So, the FULL scope of human emotion under one roof? More or less. The curators look for anything that speaks of the human experience – relationships that are sad, short or long ago, signifying closure, or not. Interestingly, the exhibits are not about the big sweeping gesture, unless you count the wedding dress in a pickle jar sent in by a jilted wife. (Explaining the unusual container, she writes: “Mostly for space reasons but any sort of appropriate pickle metaphors can be invoked.”)
Are the exhibits artistic? Some are subtle, such as the unexpectedly tragic dried-out prom corsage; others blatant – an axe fixed to a wall. Awe, shock, sadness, a sense of delight, they’re all here. Does that count as artistic?
Who should visit? Anyone and everyone, although maybe notyounger children – some of the exhibits (silicone breast implants; a series of large-cupped bras) are on the mature side. It can take a couple of hours to read every story but, as the curators say, you don’t need an art degree to understand the point of this place. LA has its uber-sophisticated museums with priceless paintings, but this is much more down to earth, and all the more riveting for it.
What can you do when you’re finished drowning in other peoples’ sorrows? This is Hollywood, so … a lot. If you’re still in a museum frame of mind, a few blocks away are Ripley’s Believe It Or Not and Madame Tussauds. Head to the massive Hollywood & Highland mall for shopping and a movie. Or better still, adjourn to the Library Bar at the historic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, which is open until
2am and offers plenty of opportunity to get your own heart broken.
What’s the COST? US$18 per adult; US$15 for students and seniors.