Friday, 28 June 2013

Museum of Broken Relationships

Where do broken hearts go?


Or the remnants left by its trail?

When a relationship regretfully ends, the natural reaction is not to see a physical reminder of the time we spent with that special someone. Memories are already a handful to contend with, and it is human nature to avoid anything that further inflicts pain.

Olinka Vištica and Dražen Grubišić didn't subscribe to that all-too familiar couple resolution of getting rid of items shared together or given to each other during the course of the relationship. Perhaps because theirs was an amicable separation, the sentimental value of everything didn't feel like a dagger deliberately plunged into them, whether out of rage or depth of despair. While sifting through the household items and gifts to be divided between them, the two joked about housing them in a museum. 

Turns out it wasn't a bad idea at all. In 2006, the first collection was opened to the public, together with donations from friends' break-up oddments. 

Follow the direction to the Museum of Broken Relationships.

Tagged as one of the world's Top 10 Weirdest Museums (Lyz Pfister for TravelNerd, 19 April 2013) together with the likes of New Delhi's International Museum of Toilets; Iceland's Phallological Museum; Berlin's Currywurst Museum; and Minnesota's Spam Museum, the Museum of Broken Relationships offers asylum to odds and ends of once considered objects of affection. In 2011, the museum received the Kenneth Hudson Award for Europe's most innovative museum. We have rituals for other important phases in our lives; donating a token of an old love in a way is a celebration to purge one's self of a woebegone romantic past. 

The location, duration of the relationship, and the story behind the item encapsulate the lovers' tale.

A Display of Broken Dreams

A wedding dress, 1994-1997, Berlin

The woman writes about wearing this dress on their wedding day on 20 August 1994 in Greece. 800 guests witnessed the ceremony and a radio station had a special coverage of the occasion.They married young, just over 20. He wanted children. Lots of them. The sooner the better. She wanted to wait after finishing their studies. Youth matched with a conflicting vision was the combination that made them drift apart. Relationships are never simple as you see it from the outside. They eventually separated. She moved back to and settled in Germany where she finally started a family. Life doesn't hesitate when the time is right.

A glass horse, 1982-1997, Slovenia

In a closet, tucked inside a cash box with her wedding ring, the wife recalls that day in Murano, Venice. After some cakes at Café Gondoliere, the couple made a quick decision to visit the glass workshops of Murano. An artist was sculpting a beautiful glass horse and out of sheer admiration, she exclaimed she'd be happy to have it. It was a long walk back to their hotel. Pure bliss meant only a few words were needed between them. Before reaching the hotel, the husband kissed her and handed her a small package. He said, "Darling, I love you. I'll never stop loving you. You are my life." She opened the package and inside was the glass horse. 20 years on, they divorced. He fell out of love. 

An ex axe, 1995, Berlin

After a three-week business trip, she came home to her lover who dropped the bomb. She was leaving her for someone else she just met four days ago while her partner's away on business. The lover immediately went on holiday for 14 days with her new girlfriend. At sixes and sevens on how to vent her anger, she found herself purchasing an axe. It went down on the furniture her ex-lover left in her apartment. With each day the erstwhile partner was away, she axed a piece of her furniture. When she came back after two weeks to collect her belongings, all that remained of her furniture was neatly arranged in a heap. The jilted lover wanted her to feel loss which she never displayed on the break-up. It was therapeutic.

Underpants, 2003-2005, Zagreb

 "A size too small...but I didn't mind at all."

A cell phone, 12 July 2003 to 14 April 2004, Zagreb

 "It was 300 days too long. He gave me his cell phone so I couldn't call him anymore."

Garterbelts, Spring - Autumn 2003, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

"I never put them on. The relationship might have lasted longer if I had."

A woman from Switzerland speaks of her ex-boyfriend, "He turned out to be as cheap and shabby as his presents." Next to the label is an unopened packet containing a candy G-string (source: That Was Then from The Economist, 25 Nov 2010).

 "Doesn't work", a donor says of a tin sold as "Love Incense". (source: Display of Affection by Andrew Mueller, The Guardian, 12 February 2011)

A broad-bean heater, shaving kit, a flashing dog collar, a tear container, a wedding album. The museum is a very eclectic collection of bric-a-brac that speaks volumes of personal stories from funny and hilarious to poignant and heart-wrenching. As one Trip Advisor reviewer puts his visit into perspective, the Museum of Broken Relationships is a " for laughs and reflections."

Can't get any better than that.

I have been to Croatia but not to Zagreb. One day I'll pay a visit to the museum, but not to leave anything behind.

How about you? Still keeping something worth donating to the museum?

For more broken hearts both in Zagreb and the other location in Los Angeles, visit:
Museum of Broken Relationships

Credits: all photos except those from specified sources are from; texts are based on the write-ups from the same website.


  1. rid of it all...when I moved 3,000 miles. Packing makes you prioritize also literarily & figuratively MOVE ON!

    1. Agree with you Kelly!

      I kept the jewellery though. They're too nice to give up, or give away :) Anything else was binned.

  2. Brilliant idea. I'll be paying a visit if I ever get to Zagreb. I have kept nothing relating to former relationships. The guilt from ending them lingered for a while though...

    1. As I told Kelly from My Soulful Home, I've kept the jewellery. Definitely won't give them away. Or pawn them. Guilt's not quite easy to get rid of. It does linger. And maybe that's why some people donate their items in the museum--to get rid of it as well as the guilt attached to it.

  3. I love to read your posts, they are always interesting and original!!!
    Kisses from Italy my beautiful and sweet friend!!!

    1. That's so lovely of you to say that Paola :)
      So glad you enjoy reading my posts.
      Very inspiring to hear.

      Big hugs from London!

      Marj x

  4. Oh, wow, I really enjoyed this post Marj. What interesting stories and things. At the moment, I think I had to forgo things from past relationships, plus moving so often helped with moving on. haha! Have a beautiful week dear. xx/Madison

    1. Thank you Madison! I just realised I have lots still from the last one. Well it was a very special one indeed :)

      Have a beautiful week, too xxx


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