A non-descript building on Melrose near Heliotrope bears the simple sign: Museum of Love. Its appearance defies the treasures inside — rooms full of interactive, artisan exhibits thoughtfully designed for connecting with whomever you choose to venture through. Cute meet-stories written on paper hearts greet you in the lobby, which are ironic and fun to read. Upon entering into the self-guided experience with your partner, you choose activities and installations that most appeal to you and begin your adventure.
While the eye-popping artwork throughout the 3,000 square feet is photo-worthy, this is no Insta-trap. Visitors might forget about their smartphones altogether. Amy Sweetman, a professor of Psychology, Neuroscience and Sexuality, is the mastermind behind L.A.’s newest museum — a dream she designed with great intention. “In today’s digital universe, face-to-face communications and interactions are being sabotaged by overreliance on texts and social media,” she says. “Individuals cannot deepen their relationships by simply sending abbreviated text messages or animated emojis of two beating hearts.”
In 2019, Sweetman and Edwin Escobar, her partner-of-7-years (a carpenter and the welcoming host/curator of the museum) rented the building and began constructing the exhibits together. Perhaps the true test of a relationship. “There was fighting along the way,” she laughs, “but that’s good because we got through it. We became closer in the process.” In the same spirit, The Museum of Love offers couples new and old the opportunity to laugh, cry and surprise one another throughout the experience, from lighthearted tests of scientific theories to contemplating mortality, there’s truly something for everyone here.
Pro tip: snap selfies in front of the colorful murals in the parking lot out back.
The curators have welcomed groups of friends, people in polyamorous relationships, and even parents with adult children during their Mother’s Day exhibit.
As couples choose where to wander (entry is time-pegged, providing an exclusive experience), music can be adjusted to enhance each room. Water, tea and snacks are available halfway through the roughly 2-hour visit. Edwin unobtrusively sanitizes and re-sets exhibits for the next round of participants.
The curators have welcomed groups of friends, people in polyamorous relationships, and even parents with adult children during their Mother’s Day exhibit. They stress it is for people of all kinds who care about one another. “Our museum is dedicated to connections!”
Nothing in the space feels cliché or mass-produced. Sweetman and her partner co-created the installations with heart, mind and elbow grease. Right down to the anatomically-correct heart jewelry, silkscreened posters and handmade candles in the gift shop.
Pride is Love
Museum of Love’s didactic language and visuals demonstrate a “love is love” philosophy. LGBTQ+ is recognized with special activities and installations during Pride month, but also year-round exercises addressing terminology, historical wisdom from the rainbow flag, and information about the gender spectrum in the apothecary drawers.
Date Night - If You Dare
Looking for a relaxed, uncrowded experience with someone you care about? Try taking your main squeeze to the museum’s current exhibit: Couples Connection Adventure. It takes participants through the stages of a relationship via a series of self-paced interactive adventures and games. Partners share memories and worldviews regarding loneliness, romance, intimacy and struggle. Couples are scheduled at fifteen-minute intervals, allowing for as long as two hours to take in the experience.
Sweetman says, “Couples will embark on a journey that simulates the different phases of a relationship. Upon arrival, each couple receives 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. We believe the takeaways will be transformational, as couples will have new appreciation of the dynamic intricacies of one another.”
Ever the scholar, Sweetman studies the data from each theme, changing and tweaking details for the next time around. She says she loves to create games and says many of the activities spring from her 25 years of classroom experience, developing ways for students to engage in the scientific study of human relationships.
The Future of Love
The museum’s current theme, Couples Connection Adventure, runs through fall. For Halloween they offer a Crimes of Passion exhibit, an escape-room-like experience “where couples are handcuffed together” and “friends compete against one another” in segments titled “equal adversaries;” “the hunt;” and “mind tap.” This is Sweetman’s favorite exhibit. “You get stickers on your back and find out whether you trust the person you’re with or not. You tell truths and lies and you simulate different crimes of passion while in handcuffs.”
We love it!