The Museum of Broken Relationships

Since Tina and I are holding a workshop exploring broken relationships, it seems appropriate for me to research a museum devoted to "the concept of failed relationships and their ruins".

The museum, which has been exhibited at the Tristan Bates Theatre in Covent Garden, resides in Zagreb, Croatia. It was dreamt up by artists Olinka Vištica and Dražen Grubišić, after their own relationship disintegrated (however, the pair remain friends, and celebrate the positive parts of their relationship in the museum).


The ex-couple

The idea came to the ex-couple whilst they were dividing up their possessions; they wanted to protect the memories held by the flotsam and jetsam of their relationship "from oblivion".

A wind up rabbit, one of the first exhibits in the museum, is a relic of Vištica and Grubišić's relationship; I (voyeuristically) wish I knew the story behind this memento.

Each exhibit is accompanied by details of the length of the relationship it signifies, the place in which this relationship took place, and a text written about it by the contributor. These range from the heartbreaking to the unintentionally humorous; for example one of those all-too prevalent gift shop teddy bears holding an "I love you" heart is accompanied by the text "WHAT A LIE! LIES, DAMN LIES!"


Such a shame that I missed the exhibition when it was in London. The concept puts me in mind of memento mori, or shrines to the dead; the exhibits in The Museum of Broken Relationships, however, are shrines to relationships that have died; a testament to the ephemeral. Love can be the most mundane or extraordinary experience, or often both at once; all aspects of love are displayed in the museum for public consumption.

And who wouldn't get a voyeuristic kick out of reading texts on lost love fraught with emotion, akin to the angsty and/or wistful pages of a teenage diary? Through placing these objects alongside their stories The Museum of Broken Relationships elevates them from the mundane to the sacred.