As the majority of the flights that I made within Europe were on EasyJet, I got into the habit of reading their in-flight magazine (which is great, incidentally) cover to cover. One of the most fascinating things I read about? The Museum of Broken Relationships.
Conceptualized by Olinka Vištica and Dražen Grubišić, the museum began as a traveling exhibition that explored failed relationships through their tangible remnants, the objects that came to mean something greater than themselves in the context of a relationship. As the exhibition gained popularity, hordes of people began donating personal belongings from their own broken relationships, and the collection that began to amass necessitated a permanent museum location, which is situated in Zagreb, Croatia. According to the museum’s website, these exhibits, “although often colored by personal experience, local culture and history… form universal patterns offering us to discover them and feel the comfort they can bring.”
I’ve been perusing some of the items in the exhibits and many of them are accompanied by an explanation from the person who donated them. One man who donated an ax recounts how he used it to chop up the belongings that his ex had left behind in their shared apartment, one each day for two weeks, and how he kept the chopped up bits and arranged them into neat little piles for when she returned to retrieve them. Another donor recounts throwing a garden gnome at the new car her husband came home in, how it bounced off the windshield and onto the ground, “a long loop, drawing an arc of time – and this short long arc defined the end of love.” The explanation that accompanies a donated cell phone simply reads: “It was 300 days too long. He gave me his cell phone so I couldn’t call him any more.”
Isn’t it fascinating how otherwise unimportant objects can become imbued with so much meaning when they’re connected to a relationship? The MoBR’s website briefly refers to these objects as ruins, but I think that’s a really powerful characterization of what the objects represent. I keep thinking about Rome and how there are ruins everywhere, monuments made from the remaining fragments of things that were once beautiful and imposing and important. If these objects are ruins, then these ruins are almost paying homage to the relationship, acknowledging that it was once beautiful and imposing and important even though it isn’t anymore. It seems like a powerful and ceremonious way to honor the importance of relationships even after they’re broken, and to overcome the pain of loss through artistic creation. I hope I’m able to see this museum someday.
Want to donate something to the Musuem of Broken Relationships? You can do so here!