The Museum of Broken Relationships: material culture, objectified intimacy and the toaster of vindication
During a recent visit to the Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb, Croatia, I was surprised to find that I had something profound in common with a video gamer in Paris, a university student in London, and the owner of an emotionally-loaded toaster in Denver.
Such is the promise of visiting this unconventional, contemporary museum filled with artifacts from romantic relationships. The objects that line the exhibit’s walls represent passion, love, and loss. Each item is the ultimate display of an individual’s attempt to overcome love’s trials by relieving himself of the weight that a broken relationship left behind.
The collection began as a traveling exhibition in 2006, crafted and curated by a former couple looking for “a chance to overcome an emotional collapse through creation.” In order to offers others the same chance, they opened up the collection for contributions. The contributions have amassed into an incredible compilation of stories and pieces representing failed loves and their ruins. Now in its permanent home in Croatia’s capital, the museum offers a ritualistic and therapeutic outlet for those still holding on to what once was.
The impact of this collection is twofold. Contributors assign the burden of emotional loss to a representative object, and sever their attachment to it by submitting it to the exhibition, providing them with a sense of closure and liberation.
In turn, we as visitors observe these relationship artifacts, immerse ourselves in their stories, and uncover universal patterns of love and loss. We feel the weight of our own struggles with love shift as we identify with a shared experience. Thus visitors ultimately leave feeling a sense of connection, affinity, and hope. We are assured that we all endure the same volatile journey love sends us on, reimagined across time zones, decades and circumstances.
A brilliant exhibition of material culture, this makes for an afternoon that is equal parts heartwarming, heart wrenching, entertaining, and inspiring.
Below are a few highlights from my afternoon spent perusing the exhibit, and a link to the museum’s website for more details on its creation and collection process.
Article by Lauren Teske
Article & Images by Lauren Teske