Who is allowed to contribute to the Museum? Is this only for mentally ill people?
The original concept was created to address the stigma that people with mental illnesses face, and to give those people a voice in a safe and impactful way. For now we would like to reserve the display just for people who have a history of mental illness and mental health struggles. This can include diagnoses like Bipolar, Clinical Depression, Borderline Personality Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Body Dysmorphia, PTSD, and less specific issues like panic attacks, suicidal ideation, or chronic depression and anxiety.
So.....is this like a Temple? Like just a place for sad people?
No. Like the Temple, this can be a place for reflection and grieving, and also celebration and learning, but the Museum Of The Broken is specifically dedicated to mental health. The hope is that it will give people living with mental health challenges a voice, and help them share a piece of their experience with the community. We will do this by displaying "artifacts", objects that express a piece of each person's struggle.
What's the deal with these "artifacts"? Why are you displaying objects instead of, say, stories or something?
We know that when people are reduced to numbers and statistics, it's really easy to not care about them. They stop being people and just become abstract concepts that most of us can't fully relate to. We've all read articles or studies or essays about the number of people who suffer from this or that, but when you see a real thing, a piece of a person's life, right there in front of you, they become more real, more alive, much harder to ignore. We hope that when members of our community see these objects, they will see a real, live person who is struggling every single day with an invisible illness, and hopefully some of the visitors to our museum, to YOUR museum, will find a place of compassion and deeper understanding within themselves.
If I want to contribute an artifact and share a piece of my experience, how do I let you know?
You can email us at email@example.com. No one but the Project Lead (Sarah Erratica Taylor) has access to this email account. We want to make sure you feel safe when you choose to become a part of this project, so we will do everything in our power to protect your identity.
What kind of artifact or object can I contribute?
There are so many possibilities, more than we could ever think of ourselves. We want you to use or create an object of some kind that will help share a piece of your struggle, and only you can really know what object might be significant to you, might help you tell your story. Some examples could be:
-A piece of art like a painting, collage, or photo
-An image of a bullet like the one you almost ate that one time
-An image of a razor like the one you used to self harm (like the one I actually used to slash my wrist when I was 19)
-A letter or note talking about some part of your struggle
-An image of or letter about a loved one who was lost to mental illness
-A piece of sculpture
-A pile of ashes
-A vial of tears
-An empty medication bottle
-A medical wristband from your stay in a mental health facility
-A visual representation of a scream
-A written or visual description of a manic or suicidal or psychotic episode you've had
These are only a few ideas, but the sky is the limit when it comes to how you choose to express yourself and your lived experience*.
*Because of our commitment to safety, we ask that you do not contribute objects that others could take and use to harm themselves or others. This would include items like razor blades, pills, loaded firearms, etc. The acrylic display boxes will be sealed shut, but we know how determined burners can be, so if you want to contribute a potentially dangerous object, we prefer that you instead use an image, like a photo, drawing, or scan. Feel free to email us if you have any questions or alternate ideas.
*The Museum of the Broken cannot be responsible for lost or stolen artifacts at SOAK.
How will the artifacts be displayed?
We plan to have a gallery filled with clear acrylic display boxes, each containing a single artifact from a single contributor, and each box will be accompanied by a label that describes the artifact and the story/emotion/experience/etc it's meant to express. We will also have space on the walls for flat artworks (like paintings or collages).
Do I have to put my name on my artifact?
Absolutely not! We plan to make sure that every contributor is 100% anonymous. The goal of the Museum is NOT to "out" people. Each artifact that is on display will have a label with a description on it, like you see in an art museum, but this will not include your name.
What if I want to put my name on my artifact?
That's totally fine! Our default setting is to assume that everyone will be anonymous, but if you want your name to be attached to your artifact then just let us know, it's totally your call.
How do I get my artifact to you?
We can arrange any number of options:
1. If you know someone on the project team you can contact them on Facebook and arrange to meet up somewhere
2. We could meet up at Woosday (the Portland-area weekly burner happy hour)
3. If you want to be 100% anonymous, you can have a friend or other trusted person bring us your artifact for you, that way even the project team will not know who you are.*
4. You can send your item through the mail. We've had several burners from areas outside Portland mail their items to us.
*Keep in mind that we don't actually NEED to know your identity, we only want you to feel free to express yourself through an object that speaks to your lived experience. We prefer that you also include some kind of written description of your artifact, some explanation of why it's important, what it means to you, in order to help others understand your message. However, a description in NOT required. If you feel like your artifact speaks for itself, we are totally cool with that, too.
Is the Museum going to be burned at the end of the regional/Burning Man?
No, the Museum of the Broken will NOT be a burnable structure. We want to try it out at SOAK 2017, and if it works well and seems to be helping people, we want it to be an ongoing exhibit.
Can I have my artifact back at the end of the event?
Of course! It's yours, you get to do whatever you want with it. We will give it back to you whenever you like, we can take it to the Temple to be burned if you want, or you can donate it to the Museum as part of the ongoing exhibit. It's your call.
If I say I want to contribute and then change my mind, is it okay if I back out?
Absolutely! The whole purpose of the Museum is to help, not to hurt, and not to force. If you decide that this doesn't feel right, at ANY point, it's totally fine. You are not obligated. We want every part of this project to be consensual, and we understand that a project like this can get really heavy, maybe even traumatic, so please do not feel pressured to do anything that does not feel right to you.
What if I can't decide what or even if I want to contribute? Will I be able to add an artifact during SOAK?
YES! We plan to have a certain number of empty display boxes available in the Museum, specifically for people who feel inspired to contribute an object during the event.