Museum of Broken Relationships

August 1, 2010

When Drazen Grubišić broke up with his girlfriend, he and Olinka Vištica brainstormed a way on how to reach out to those who weathered through their own broken relationships.   Grubišić explained that events like birthdays, funerals, and reunions bring people together, but for a momentous event such as breaking up, one often has to suffer through that alone.  In hopes of providing catharsis for that event, he and Vištica set up The Museum of Broken Relationships, an interactive gallery composed of items contributed from the locals.

The items, ranging from wire bras to toys to postcards, need not tell the story of a romantic relationship gone wrong — there are also exhibitions featuring broken platonic relationships, broken families, divorces from one’s home country, religious beliefs, and so on.  Founded in Croatia, the Museum of Broken Relationships has travelled through much of Central and Eastern Europe, South Africa, San Francisco, Singapore, and Ireland.  At each location, people donate their items along with its accompanying story.  Grubišić told of some awkward situations where someone would visit the museum to see a relic their ex-lover had donated.  In one memorable episode, however, one broken couple actually got back together because of this scenario.

The most powerful items were the ones with stories succinct enough that they inspired audience imagination.  A broken cell phone was accompanied by a plaque that read, “My boyfriend sent me his phone through the mail after we broke up because he didn’t want me calling him anymore.”  A silver-plated watch told the story of one woman’s boyfriend who, on the first time he told her, “I love you,” pulled out the pin to stop the time.  She wrote that although twenty years had passed since the break up of that relationship, she didn’t have the heart to push the pin back in. 

Perhaps the question that remains is: is this art?  Or is it a communal need to share with each other the things we have lost and can never regain?

You can visit their website here: http://www.brokenships.com/

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