Have you heard about the Empathy Museum?
It is an experimental project created by cultural thinkers, curators, entrepreneurs and scientists. Their aim is to boost the audience’s empathy and transform the way we perceive other people.
The Empathy Museum launched last Friday with ‘A Mile In My Shoes’ a pop-up exhibition in Vauxhall on the bank of the river Thames as a part of Totally Thames Festival. At Lingoing, we appreciate empathy is a crucial factor of social inclusion therefore we were very interested in the project and decided to take a day out and visit the ‘A Mile In My Shoes’ exhibition.
We were very surprised when we reached the place to see a giant shoebox at the riverside! Inside there were many shoes which each carried stories of other people’s lives and experiences. You could wear any pair you liked whether they fit or not! (that was interesting!) You were also given a pair of headphones with an audio recording of a life story of the shoes owner. You could literally put yourself in someone’s shoes, have a walk by the river, listen to their personal stories and dive into their experience.
We were very excited, we tried the size 12 high heels of a drag queen called Timbelina, a pair of roller-skates from a sportswoman, the sandals of an old actor and some of us were even brave enough to have a walk wearing rubber shoes of a man who worked in London’s sewers!
We had lots of fun and we thought this kind of exhibition was a very clever idea to let the audience embrace other people’s experiences. It was great because our deaf members of staff could also share this experience, as the audio recordings were interpreted for them by our amazing interpreters. Wearing someone else’s shoes you let go of your judgments and your stiff ideas; having their shoes on your feet and hearing their voice in your head makes it both a physical and emotional experience that allows you to re-discover that we are all the ‘same same but different’. It was an extraordinary team-building activity and it gave us some ideas on how to maybe organise a deaf awareness experience for hearing people in the future.
The exhibition is there until the 27th September and it is open 12pm – 6pm every day apart from Mondays and Tuesdays. The location address is: Riverside Gardens, Nine Elms Lane, SW8 2DU.