Everyone has their own rituals after a breakup - some chop off all their hair, some rebound into the arms of a person they’ll look back on and cringe, others take off travelling on quests of self-discovery. But there's one process that every lover scorned or set free will have to face in order to finally move on: getting rid of their former partner's belongings. Whether that means the chair they always sat in or their toothbrush in the bathroom, those once treasured items suddenly take on a new, slightly unpleasant meaning, and we’re often compelled by a desire to bin them or burn them.
Rarely though, do we think the best idea would be to immortalise them in a museum; the Museum of Broken Relationships, in Zagreb, Croatia, does just that. Stuffed full of mementos from fairy tale romances that fell short, couldn’t be, or just fully crashed and burned, a visit might both destroy and save your faith in love at the same time. While most of the artefacts relate to former partners, some reflect other relationships, tokens from parents to their children, and vice versa.
In short, lots of things. Many of the items, like clothes and stuffed toys, will feel familiar, while others - like fake breasts or the axe smashed into the wall - not so much. Of course, getting rid of those kinds of special mementos can feel depressingly final or joyfully liberating, depending on how you feel about that person, and fortunately the museum reflects this in spades. With each of the anonymous artefacts there's a caption that gives an insight into the background around the relationship. Some are funny - like the vindictively pinched toaster - while others are furiously frank, “He was a player” simply reads the note under a baseball shirt. Brutal.
The museum initially came about after the breakdown of a relationship between two Croatian artists, who decided that rather than throw out the tokens of their time together they should instead use them to commemorate it. After opening a permanent museum in Zagreb in 2010, they opened a sister premises in LA, and now also have a digital exhibition too; today, their collection is so big that only 15% of it is ever on show at one time.
Helpfully many of the captions are available in multiple languages - that rubbish post-break up feeling is universal, after all.
Want to contribute? You can. Head over to their website to find out how.
The museum is centrally located in the old town
June 1st to September 30th
October 1st to May 31st
Admission to the Museum of Broken Relationships
Museum of Broken Relationships
Ćirilometodska ul. 2,