We all keep mementos of our past loves, sometimes even unknowingly. The Museum of Broken Relationships collects and preserves these mementos and the memory assigned to them by their previous owners. The Museum of Broken Relationships lies in the historic district of Zagreb’s Upper Town. At one point the museum was a travelling exhibition revolving around the concept of relationships that had gone South. The exhibition toured 25 cities worldwide before settling at it’s permanent location in Zagreb.
In Zagreb there is an array of museums to choose from, but the only one I had on my mind to visit this trip was the Museum of Broken Relationships. Weird, I know. But the name and concept intrigued me and I wasn’t disappointed.
As a veteran of a few failed relationships, I truly appreciated this museum and its contents. It pays homage to failed and lost loves. Many relationships that end badly often result in one or both partners spiraling into self-destructive phases. This museum celebrates love from the good times and bad by offering its donors the opportunity to heal by sharing their failed love story.
Items in this museum vary as much as the love stories they sprung from. Stories and mementos from love lost, broken, betrayed or faded are within the walls of this small museum. Items vary from articles of clothing (such as wedding dresses, coats and shoes) to keys, love letters littered with broken promises and a bike light.
If you ever find yourself in Zagreb (and I suggest you plan to), then stop by the Museum of Broken Relationships, it’s well worth your time. In addition to the museum, you’ll also find a small gift and coffee shop in the same building. There’s free wifi in the coffee shop and cute museum trinkets for sale such as ‘bad memory’ erasers and zippered pillowslips that may be separated to form two matching pillowcases or zipped together to form one large pillowcase.
My top 3 favourite pieces from the museum
While there were more visually stimulating items, I selected my favourite items based on their accompanying stories and it was hard to choose just three.
Story accompanying item 1 | Escaping from Sarajevo under fire in a big convoy, we were held hostage for three days when leaving the city. A few days before, I turned 13. In a car next to ours there was Elma, with her mother and some other people, I don’t remember whom. I only remember she was blonde and incredibly cute. I fell in love, with childlike honesty, and confessed it to her with the same honesty in this letter. I had given her some tapes since she forgot to bring her own music along before leaving in a hurry. As I didn’t get the time to give her the letter, because after three days they suddenly freed us and we lost sight of Elma’s car near Travnik, she never got to return my Azra, Bijelo Dugme, EKV, Nirvana and other tapes… Naturally, I never saw her again, although I just hope that the music reminded her of something nice and cute in that whole terrible situation.
Story accompanying item 2 | Well… A relationship very short, but mentally so tough and ‘crazy’ that it brought me to a moment of complete madness… And I cut my hair and I lived without it for a long time and no one loved me… And I was happy.
Story accompanying item 3 | The only thing left of great love was citizenship.
My 3 items
I found the museum rather therapeutic and found myself, more than once, surprised by the emotion stories and items elicited from me. It made me think what items I’ve kept from past relationships.
Item 1 | This blog sprung from a horrible break up, yet I can’t name anything specific at this time which I’ve chosen to keep from that relationship other than photos. I think once I make a more permanent move and unpack I will find other things. All I can think of now are the photos; we spent the bulk of our 20s together and I’ve not had the heart to dispose of those digital images. There’s also our engagement photos. They’re on a disc I purchased from the photographer. I didn’t have any prints made, but I did make a point of buying the digital images. I still haven’t viewed the disc of images, but I’ll get to them someday.
Item 2 | From a love that was either lost or faded (I’ve not yet decided) I’ve kept a drawing I drew of the two of us. It happened so quickly and I was so engrossed in the moments we spent together that we never actually took a picture together. Once returning to my home country, I drew a picture which I titled, ‘Portrait of a cynic and absent-minded professor’. It was not a piece of art, by any means, but it was the only tangible thing I had from that short-lived relationship. I sent him a scanned copy of it and I’d like to think he cherished it as much as I did/do.
Item 3 | It was my first or second week in Greece, August 2005. I went to a small, nearby Greek island and had the most romantic weekend of my life to date with a beautiful Greek man. I didn’t have a phone number yet as I’d just moved to Greece, I didn’t know of Facebook and I didn’t use email for anything other than school at that time (hard to imagine now) – so he wrote his phone number on my map of Athens and I promised to call him once I returned to the mainland. He was going to come and visit me but I never called. I think I was much wiser than I am now. I had a moment of clarity when I realised that I had just experienced the most perfect, romantic weekend of my life (no sex involved) and I didn’t want to ruin it.