The Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb is dedicated to lost love. On display are everyday objects symbolising the end of love's dream. Garter belt, teddy bears, wedding dress, key.... objects that once symbolised love and desire.
Love laid bare
The exhibits are personal items donated by real people. They are accompanied by a short story detailing the length of the relationship and describing the significance of the objects.
It is an eclectic collection of objects, selected to reflect a diverse range of experiences. Funny, cute, moving, sad, alarming, crazy, tragic. The momentos are coupled with anonymous stories told with absolute candour. Their voices cry out, full of love, hate, loss, grief, abandonment, betrayal, anger, loneliness, humour, guilt, regret, cynicism. All are unable to move on.
The exhibits expose intimate details of the participants' love life, thrusting the visitor into the role of trusted confidant. Naturally you feel a great deal of empathy for them.
What becomes of the broken hearted?
The Museum grew from a traveling exhibition that explored the concept of 'failed relationships and their ruin'. It offered the participants 'a chance to overcome an emotional collapse through creation'. A catharsis. A natural place for items that now symbolise the end of love. An alternative to a private bonfire.
This travelling exhibition recognised that there are ceremonies for engagements, weddings, christenings, graduations, but no public way of dealing with the end of a relationship. No formal acknowledgement of loss, no ritual to honour and mourn the past.
The Museum found willing participants and a receptive audience.
'Whatever the motivation for donating personal belongings – be it sheer exhibitionism, therapeutic relief, or simple curiosity – people embraced the idea of exhibiting their love legacy as a sort of a ritual, a solemn ceremony'.
This permanent exhibition provides that 'solemn ceremony'. An opportunity for participants to share their pain and release the past. A ritual to exorcise love's demons and to heal a broken heart.
Like undertakers or funeral directors the Museum approaches the lovers with sensitivity and respect. Each item, each story prepared and displayed with the utmost care.
The idea is abstract, bold, original and ultimately successful. In 2011, the Museum won an award for the most innovative museum in Europe.
The Museum has a large collection of lovelorn artifacts and compelling stories. Here are my top five.
- There's a can of love incense that doesn't work:
- There's the wedding album from an unhappy first marriage:
- There's the traveling Honey Bunny that was meant to travel the world, but only made it as far as Iran:
- There's the Ex Axe that reduced a cheating Ex's furniture to kindling:
'Every day I axed one piece of her furniture. I kept the remains there, as an expression of my inner condition. The more her room filled with chopped furniture acquiring the look of my soul, the better I felt. Two weeks after she left, she came back for the furniture. It was neatly arranged into small heaps and fragments of wood. She took that trash and left my apartment for good. The axe was promoted to a therapy instrument'.
- And finally, there's the Dog Collar Light originally purchased for a little dog that kept getting lost, but post-breakup symbolising how lost the owner felt:
'This little red light has been with me everywhere, in my toilet bag for two years now, killing me every time I saw it. My former partner took her own life a little over a year after we split up. Alone. In a hotel room. In a strange town. I am still alive, but....
PS Please hang it blinking if you use it - it reminds me of a heartbeat. The battery can be replaced'.