Odds and quads

June 24, 2010

These ears, and the heart in the background, form part of the unique Muir Hunter Museum of Bankruptcy at Kingston University's Centre for Insolvency Law and Policy.

The museum was started as a hobby in 2005 by John Tribe, KPMG lecturer in restructuring at Kingston. It now includes about 400 items, including memorabilia from Railtrack and Enron; a ceremonial wig lent by the Royal Courts of Justice; and a complete register of bankrupt MPs and peers covering the period 1902-92.

Alongside these artefacts, Mr Tribe has brought together a collection of objects to symbolise the fearsome punishment inflicted on the bankrupt in times gone by.

The heart, which is made of plastic, represents the pound of flesh demanded by Shylock in The Merchant of Venice. The sliced-off ears, also plastic, and purpose-built pillories show what happened to bankrupts who refused to reveal their assets in the 17th century.

The museum's name pays tribute to the late barrister Muir Hunter QC, who served as an honorary professor at Kingston.

Send suggestions for this architectural series to: matthew.reisz@tsleducation.com.

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