The Museum of Broken Relationships
The shabby walls are coloured in a plain white. They might express the feeling that something has been wiped out or taken away. At the start, one gets the impression of being in a normal museum where you walk from room to room and look at things like paintings or historical artefacts. The Museum of Broken Relationships, however, offers its visitors a glimpse into an intimate part of peoples’ lives: both women and men from all over the world sent in their personal belongings which they connect with past and broken relationships.
I only had a vague idea of what these items would be. There is a surprisingly great range of things in the little museum that is set in the beautiful old town of Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. The things have been placed in different sections, representing break-ups from tragic and sad to downright hilarious. Some relationships lasted for a long time whilst others were only brief and passionate ones.
A woman from the Philippines sent a newspaper from NYC where she and her boyfriend had been building up their careers. The newspaper stands for the struggle of becoming successful together; within a few years though, the couple took different paths in life.
Another woman from Macedonia gave away a wisp of her hair that she had cut off after a short “crazy” relationship. She obviously needed a change …
The story about someone who ripped her partner’s furniture with an axe was the most fascinating one. The person said she used the axe as a therapeutic means, and to show her ex how much she had been hurt.
As you walk through the museum you will laugh your head off one minute and find yourself reduced to tears at another. This might happen in the room of unintended break-ups, that is, relationships that fell apart because one partner died.
Poems and letters, broken bracelets and glass are common symbols for the end of a pleasant, but sometimes also tough time.
People also sent wedding dresses, photo albums and things that helped them escape a relationship for good, like a bicycle or trainers.
This museum might not teach you anything about art, history or technology, but it shows a very humane aspect of life. Each individual story tells us that life will go on after a break-up. It might not be easy for a while but you will learn from your experience and grow stronger again.
Having visited a lot of “normal” museums, the Museum of Broken Relationships is definitely a good alternative and a creative way of making people think about their lives.