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ZAGREB – MUSEUM OF BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS, This Museum Will Touch Your Deepest Emotions

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Imagine you enter a museum with nothing but a bunch of completely ordinary stuff in
it. Just everyday objects like a bunny, a lighter or a high-heel shoe, displayed on white
pedestals. But somehow each of these objects deeply moves you most intimately.

The Museum of Broken Relationships
The Museum of Broken Relationships
There is a short note attached to every item. Few words maybe, or a line, or something longer. The words written on the note, completely ordinary words, transform these mundane objects into the stories of love, devotion and passion… and breakups.

It’s the Museum of Broken Relationships – a museum that will take you on a journey

within the most intricate passages of the human soul.

We all had a love affair or two, gone wrong. We’ve all been hurt, disappointed and felt
neglected. We’ve all been mad, angry and devastated. Sometimes it hurts so much we just
can’t bear it anymore, and sometimes it turns us into a somehow better person. It all depends
on how we deal with it. And if you listen to advises of bad self-help journalism you will
probably end in loath and burning down the leftovers from your ex in a dreadful fashion.

Separate and Thematic All White Rooms
Separate and Thematic All White Rooms

Or you can share your grief with the world, putting out your message into the relics of
your broken relationship, to outline the universal states of humankind – love,
compassion, and emotion.

The collection of airsickness bags, for instance, is hiding a subtle, though humorous,
commentary on long-distance relationships and the troubles these relationships are mostly
destined for. The note says:

A range of air sickness bags as a memento of a long-distance relationship. One Croatia
Airlines, one Lufthansa, one Hapag Lloyd Express and three German Wings bags. I think I
still have those illustrated safety instructions as well, ones showing what to do when the
airplane begins to fall apart. I have never found any instructions on what to do when a
relationship begins to fall apart, but at least I’ve still got these bags.” —Zagreb, Croatia.

Love Letters

Museum of Broken Relationships is an original creative art project conceived by Olinka Vištica and Dražen Grubišić in 2006.

The idea for a project came upon after their love affair ended. Olinka, a film producer, and Dražen, a sculptor, both Zagreb-based artists, were together for four years. Their break up was amicable, but they found it hard to say goodbye to each other since there was so much that was connecting them. As they trudged through the motions of dividing up their stuff and moving out of their shared home in Zagreb, they realized some mementos couldn’t be split in two. Like Honey Bunny, a lifeless wind-up toy rabbit. As artists, Olinka and Dražen were both traveling much. When one of them had to travel alone, the bunny would fill up the gap and pose in the photographs taking the place of a missing dear. While discussing who would get the bunny, the idea first came as a joke. Why don't we make a museum of love-affairs gone wrong? It was conceived as a metaphor at the beginning, but after the idea matured over a year or so, former lovers agreed on turning their romance into an art project.
The beginnings were humble. The first exhibition was given in a shipping container in a museum garden in Zagreb, as a part of the 41st Zagreb Salon collective exhibition. Their bunny was accompanied by few other exhibits donated by friends and colleagues as anonymous contributions. But, within given circumstances, the collection was a huge success. The visitors themselves wanted to donate the relics of their failed romances. Total strangers willingly giving away little pieces of their intimate lives. And the concept was born.

The idea was that the objects should be presented very simply, with a card underneath outlining the person’s story.

The innovative collection soon toured the world – Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina,
Germany, Macedonia, the Philippines, Serbia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, Turkey, the UK, and the USA.

Wherever it went, it gathered more and more contributions from residential donors. As an
example, in 2007 more than 30 objects were donated by Berliners alone during the Berlin exhibition.

Art in the Museum of Broken Relationships

The collection finally settled on a temporary location inside the 18th-century palace in Zagreb’s Upper Town in 2010.

Ironically, the museum is located just down the street where the City Hall is and couples celebrating the first moments of their love finally been legalized before the registrar. Brides in white and their suite are taking smiling photographs, unaware that in a short time maybe, their stuff would become a part of an exhibition. The bunny, the first exhibit you come to when entering the museum, standing in front of his vacation snapshot in a desert near Tehran, now posing under the placard saying – The bunny was supposed to travel the world but never got further than Iran –  is welcoming more than 40.000 visitors every year, mostly the tourists from all over the globe.

The museum consists of 4.000 items, distributed over the space of several separate and thematic, all-white rooms.

Exhibits range from the hilarious (the toaster someone nicked so their ex could never make toast again) to the heartbreaking (the suicide note from somebody's mother). In turns funny, poignant and moving, it's a perfect summing-up of the human condition. So, the whole experience is deep and intimate.

Some visitors are even offered a hug and a handkerchief upon the end of their tour. So deep is the impact of the exhibition.

The items become so much more than just a material everyday stuff, and the sincere words from strangers remind us of how well we all are connected.
As the founder Olinka Vištica said herself:

It’s an intimate experience in a public space, and that’s so rare.

Shown in that light, it’s clear how far goes the innovation of the whole concept. In 2011 the collection was awarded by European Museum Forum as the most unusual, daring and, perhaps, a controversial achievement that challenges common perceptions of the role of museums in society. The collection still travels the world. The touring version of the show has visited 53 locations worldwide and new items are still coming.

Thanks to projects like the Museum of Broken Relationships, it seems like people are discovering new ways of dealing with love-wrecks.

Non-aggressive, non-resenting, non-hating ways.


Love is the universal state of humankind.


If we only learn how to share with the world.

Your CTC Team, S.J.

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