A Connective Odyssey: The Los Angeles Museum of Love

love museum

In late 2019, Amy Sweetman, a professor who has taught Psychology, Neuroscience, and the Psychology of Sexuality for 25 years, conceived the Museum of Love. Located at 4320 Melrose Avenue, it welcomed it’s first guests on Saturday, January 25, 2020.

The museum has zero outside funds or grants, merely being a fun personal project developed for LA couples of all ages. The fees paid to attend the museum financially maintain it. 

Two factors inspired Professor Sweetman to create the museum: the lack of time spent on educating people about relationships, and her passion for museums.

“I have always felt confused as to why the research points over and over to the fact that what makes a good life is healthy connections with others, but yet we spend so little time in education on this research.”

One example of such a study would be the Harvard longitudal one on adult growth which discovered that people’s social connections are the best way to anticipate their mental and physical health along with their life satisfaction.

“Additionally, social connections play a role in our earning potential and our ability to recover from major medical interventions such as surgery or cancer treatments.  Yet unless students take a course on relationships and sexuality, which are not mandatory at most educational institutions, they are not likely to be exposed to this information or what types of behaviors maintain healthy relationships.”

“It stumped me as to why Los Angeles had a Museum of Broken Relationships and a Museum of Death, but not a Museum of Love. As far as I know, I do not think there has been a major museum exhibit that focuses solely on promoting human connection.  I am hopeful that the connection exhibit will eventually travel throughout the United States at some of the major science museums.”https://www.youtube.com/embed/P-2pd8JMWd0?start=27&feature=oembed

What to Anticipate

The Museum of Love is not a traditional one with artifacts.  Rather, it involves a Connection Adventure, an interactive experience aimed for couples of all ages. Sweetman describes it like this: “Couples will embark on a journey that simulates the different phases of a relationship. Upon arrival, each couple will receive a special memory book to record their unique experiences. In each section of the museum, individuals will be presented with activities that allow them to uncover new insights about one another. Their time with us will be enlightening and full of surprises. We believe the takeaways will be transformational, as couples will have new appreciation of the dynamic intricacies of one another.”

There are nine different sections of the museum, involving loneliness, romance, intimacy and even storms. “Each room is filled with interactive activities to inspire you to connect in new ways” says Sweetman.

For example, the first room has a connective theme: one of its first tasks has the partners presented with 8 houses, with each partner having to select the house they think their counterpart would prefer. After they disclose their selections, they will go around the corner to discover some insightful information related to their choice.

Another room called the Romantic Forest is spacious and is either very dark and somewhat ominous or romantic depending on one’s perspective. The room is split in half: one side has tasks about connecting in reality while the other side has info and a task pertaining to tragedy.

“It is symbolizing the fact that in the beginning, your relationship is full of romance, but this cannot last forever, you will eventually be forced to face the reality of one another which will move you to a new level or your relationship will end in tragedy.”

Other tasks will answer these questions: What would your partner save from a shipwreck? Would your partner choose ketchup or mustard and why? How would your partner view themselves in a playground as a child? What memories of your time together does your partner most cherish? Have you dreamed up with a couple’s bucket list? How does your childhood affect your relationship? Over 45 different activities await couples. 

Most visitors to the museum are pleasingly astonished and usually make this statement “Wow, that was such a special experience! I have never done anything like that.” The museum has no advertising other than its appearance on free calendars, since only Sweetman herself funds it and she would rather use the money for improvements and building exhibits. 

“I figure that if I build a good place that word will eventually get around.”

The Impending Darkness

The museum does not stop with the Connection Adventure. Indeed, it will be taken down on September 20th and will not return until around mid-January of next year. The Crimes of Passion exhibition will replace it on September 25. 

In Sweetman’s words: “Crimes of Passion will be the antithesis of the Connection Adventure. I am very excited about it.  It will be very, very dark and it is definitely not for everyone.”

In the dawn of the exhibit, partners will be set against each other in an array of activities which will involve them “hunting” one another. The adventure’s first stage will be extremely scary and dark and will last 20-25 minutes. After this, partners will transfer to a room where they will be handcuffed together to finish illustrative tasks paralleling well-known crimes of passion. One involves putting adult diapers on an astronaut mannequin, which is not easy at all. The tasks are genius and entertaining. Later, the handcuffs will be removed, and the guests will participate in other gory activities relating to murder and darkness, with one reimagining the “pin the tail on the donkey” game as “stab the heart of the lover”.

But the passion does not finish yet: there is also a drive-through Los Angeles Horror Story scavenger hunt sending people to well-known crime scenes in the city related to Crimes of Passion. While they travel to their destination, they will have a detailed story of the crime. Once they make it, they will usually be given photos of the crime scene and will have to search for an object pertaining to the crime. The crime sights include the Toolbox, Richard Ramirez, Black Dahlia, and the Golden State Freeway murders. The hunt can last from 2.5 to 4 hours.

Hours of Operation 

COVID and low attendance have caused changes in the museum’s schedule and capacity. The times available are Friday 5-7pm, Saturday 2-7 pm and Sunday 2-5 pm. Only around 8 couples are allowed at a time and the reservations are alternated at 15-minute gaps. 

It is best to schedule an early arrival to be able to spend more time at the museum, since the experience is limited to 2 hours although couples are allowed to stay more time if they are not the last ones in the building. Some couples have even stayed in the building for 5 hours. If there is more attendance, the museum is open to expanding its hours of operation.

Author: Keri Freeman

Military mom and proud parent, artist, writer, musician and film maker. Cocktail connoisseur. Publisher of DTLA Weekly.

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