Somehow in our endeavour to plan the best and timely European adventure, my best friend and I mistakenly attributed too many days of our trip to Zagreb, Croatia. Whilst Zagreb’s scenery and culture differs greatly from others around Croatia, my best friend and I respectfully felt like one day was appropriate to cover the whole city centre – rookie error, we know.
Somewhat underwhelmed by the range of activities available, at the recommendation of our bus conductor, we decided to pop into ‘The Museum of Broken Relationships’. Located on a side street just off the central shopping strip, the quaint minimalist museum turned out to be the saving grace of our Zagreb-ian encounters.
The Museum of Broken Relationships is like nothing we had ever seen. A museum solely dedicated to the conclusion of relationships, whether they be romantic, platonic, familial, working or an intrinsic relationship. Comprising of hundreds of submissions donated from all over the world, the museum chooses from the pool of submissions and displays of people who want to share their experiences, sentiments and wisdom pertaining to broken relationships. Each submission consists of a physical object (although some submissions are multimedia presentations) accompanied by a short statement or explanation about said relationship. A relatively simple concept that can somehow impact you to the core.
My best friend and I were advised by our bus conductor that the museum was thought up by a previously married couple who had recently divorced. Whilst in the process of sorting through their home and their shared physical possessions, it became apparent that some physical items were of great sentimentality, holding memories of a better time where the couple were happy and passionately in love. Unknowing how to either dispose or split the items, they thought up the genesis of “The Museum of Broken Relationships”.
If you let it, the museum can take you on a 360-degree emotional journey. You will laugh, you will cry, you will question the depths and the depravity of humanity, you will reflect and you will thank yourself for going (and me for recommending it to you). Submissions range from childhood sweethearts aching for one another decades on, from children neglected by their parents, widows who will not allow themselves to move on, to refugees pining for their former lands and lifestyles. The museum reminds you that everyone has a story and whilst you might be in pain from any type of loss, you are not alone – hidden inside all of us are scars of the past.
Nothing in the Museum of Broken Relationships is hidden behind glass. Visitors are asked not to touch objects (too much) but it’s not the objects that are ‘sacred’; it’s the story they tell. And thus, although the facilities are great, lighting isn’t always perfect, some of the walls have cracks and the presentation isn’t always very subtle. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that the museum tells a real story. Museums of the Future
Some original images I captured at the museum:
What I admire most is the museum’s openness to visitors contributing to the exhibition. A large black book sits upon an altar at the back of the museum with a pen beside it. There visitors are able to share their stories, their trauma, heartbreak and their second chances after their broken relationship. Considering how emotionally impactful the museum is, it was no surprise to my best friend and I that both men and women sobbed over the book, writing their stories for people from all over the world to read. We too capitalised on the experiences and shared some wisdom, wrote some profanities and walked away with a sense of relief.
Other messages we enjoyed, include:
I honestly can not recommend the Museum of Broken Relationships enough. What was a ploy of wasting time, turned into one of the most enjoyable experiences of my euro-trip. If you find yourself in Zagreb (or any of the nations that the museum is touring in), put the museum on your ‘must see’ list!