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Don’t log off without checking into the Museum of Love

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Need a little help in the romance department? Then check out a new Web site designed to bring undying love to the masses. At www.museumoflove.org, visitors can enter the enchanting world of the fictitious Museo di Palazzo Filomela and learn all about the ins and outs of amore. “I wanted the Museum of Love to be the most romantic site on the Web,” explained its creator, Brooklyn-based author and illustrator Kris Waldherr. It was her latest bestselling book that inspired her to create the Web site. “My illustrated novel ‘The Lover’s Path’ features a museum in it, the Museo di Palazzo Filomela or the museum of the palace of the nightingale,” she explained. “As I worked on ‘The Lover’s Path,’ the museum took on a life of its own. I began to imagine an entire backstory for it, which originates in a 16th century Venetian love affair. This expanded to beyond what I could feature in my book. Eventually I thought it would be fun to create a Web site for the museum, featuring my paintings and writing and my publications.” Posted on the Web site is an illustrated tour of the museum’s interior, which Waldherr created from her home in Brooklyn’s Kensington neighborhood. Doing so was just another way for the talented illustrator to express her creative side. “I thought it would be fun,” she said of why she opened the site. “And it was – you have no idea how much fun it was to create the artifacts, to think up the museum backstory…I like the idea of a Web site being an alternative medium for creating a story.” The content on the site is also largely based on famous couples throughout history. “There’s paintings of famous lovers, retellings of love stories, animated artifacts that present the Museum of Love’s imaginary history and biographies of its original inhabitants,” Waldherr said. Once on the site, hopeless romantics can send love letters to the special people in their lives. The electronic messages are adorned with images of well-known couples, such as Tristan and Isolde, Cupid and Psyche, and Isis and Osiris. “The myth of Cupid and Psyche speaks about how love changes and challenges us,” Waldherr said. “The story of Dante and Beatrice is comforting to anyone who has suffered unrequited love. It basically tells us to let love inspire us to great deeds, instead of sitting in a room sad and rejected.” There’s a special page on the site for people who have had their hearts broken. As Waldherr explained, “It was something a friend suggested. She felt that I needed to address people who maybe aren’t so happy in love to make my work and the Museum accessible to them on this level. After all, art is often a search for catharsis.” The site even includes typical museum features. “Like all museums, there’s also a gift shop which features my publications,” Waldherr said. Moving from the literary world to the World Wide Web was not a stretch for Waldherr, a true romantic who met the love of her life while traveling on a Brooklyn subway. Waldherr hopes Web crawlers will tour www.museumoflove.org and be inspired to rekindle the flame in their own love lives, especially since Brooklyn is a wildly romantic borough. “Like my Museum of Love, which is set in an imaginary Venice, Brooklyn is also set on water. And water lends itself beautifully to romantic activities – twilight walks across the Brooklyn Bridge, visits to the [Brooklyn Heights] Promenade, caviar and blinis overlooking the ocean on the Brighton Beach boardwalk, boat rides in Prospect Park, or a stroll around the koi pond in the Japanese garden of the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.” “Ultimately, I hope the Museum of Love is a beautiful place to visit – I love the idea of a museum that only exists in the imagination,” she said. “But more importantly, I hope the site will help to inspire people to think about love in a deeper, more mythic way.”

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