ZAGREB – A museum in Croatia that has become a popular spot with tourists now includes an exhibition dedicated to the effects of war, terror and on love.
Located in the historic center of Zagreb, the Museum of Broken Relationships exhibits objects donated anonymously by people all over the world, each item displayed alongside a story or explanation.
“We spend a year studying and classifying some 3,500 objects by theme with their stories. In the end, we chose 100 for the new collection,” said Drazen Grubisic, who founded the museum in 2010 along with his ex-girlfriend Olinka Vistica.
The museum’s inception was born out of the couple’s own break-up in that when they parted ways they did not know what to do with all the things they had accumulated together, items that reminded them of their love.
So it occurred to them to create their own museum to which former lovers could bring objects they loved or hated as a sort of way of saying goodbye to relationships that did not work out.
A shellac disc from 1942 Nazi Germany, a portrait and a box of crayons, displayed as a memory of the love between a Jewish couple, and a love letter written during the Siege of Sarajevo (1992-96) were just some of the items donated to the space as a testimony to love and separation in times of war.
A woman from Istanbul donated her wedding dress she never got to wear because her boyfriend died in a terror attack in 2016.
Although the original concept of the museum was love lost between couples, many of the items related to family.
A collection of origami cranes was donated by a Japanese woman who made them at a time when she felt suffocated by the grief and pain of having lost a son before he was born.
The new exhibition presents a variety of everyday objects and break-ups between couples in “normal” circumstances, accompanied by stories that can be sad, full of bitterness, funny or curious.
“In the end, before we painted the furniture, we decided to end our relationship,” one woman wrote in a letter next to her donation.
Visitors “recognize themselves in the stories, the pain, funny situations and the emotions of others in the museum,” Grubisic told EFE.
“Men especially keep a lid on their emotions, they never overcome them, and when they recognize here the common threads of humanity in all of us, they feel relief and understanding,” he said.
In 2011, the museum was awarded the Kenneth Hudson Award for being the most innovative museum in Europe and in 2016 it won the International Design Communication Award for the museum with the best website.