It is safe to say that none of us make through life’s labyrinth of personal relationships completely unscathed. There are times – from a childhood playground to the mature affairs of the heart – when we may have indeed loved…and lost. Gotten shot down. Passed over. Walloped. Crushed or crashed.
This is not to say that all endings are somber occasions. Some are indeed a cause for celebration. But if we have truly loved…the end of any relationship is rarely how we envisioned the original script to read. And regardless of who initiates the process, there are no winners.
The question that remains is where do we file the experiences of those relationships? What do we do with the remnants? Especially in the case of marriages or long-term love affairs, those “remnants” may include years of shared history, milestones, and memories.
We know what to do when a loved one dies – we are allowed to, we are expected to, mourn. But what does one do when a relationship dies?
In the case of two artists from Croatia, the answer was to…start a museum. (A museum that won the 2011 Kenneth Hudson award* for the most innovative museum in all of Europe.)
On the museum website the founders explain: “Our societies oblige us with our marriages, funerals, and even graduation farewells, but deny us any formal recognition of the demise of relationships, despite its strong emotional effect.”
The press this museum continues to receive has been quite amazing. The Economist ran an article last year with the headline: “That Was Then.” The London Evening Standard’s headline read: “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?” Psychology Today jumped in with “Sticky Bonds.”
And for those “fresh start” resolutions that often accompany the New Year, if you have the inclination to ‘clean house’, the museum website offers anyone the opportunity to become an anonymous donor. (See below.)
Museum goers have called it everything from hilarious to heart-breaking. Read on and let us know what you think.
Lamenting lost love with totems of tears and tragedy, the relics of broken relationships…
The Broken-Hearts Club becomes an award-winning International Museum
Located in Zagreb, Croatia The Museum of Broken Relationships was created when two artists, Olinka Vistica and Drazen Grubisic, broke up and wanted to do something creative with the “artifacts” of their relationship. So they started the museum. The collection now features more than 700 objects signifying a relationship that has come to an end donated anonymously by people from around the world. Each object is accompanied by a brief description.
Currently on display in the UK, the museum’s international touring exhibition has made stops in San Francisco, Houston, St. Louis, and The School of Fine Arts (SoFA) Gallery at Indiana University.
According to press materials, “the Museum offers individuals the chance to overcome their emotional collapse through creation by contributing to the Museum’s collection. The individual gets rid of controversial objects, the triggers of undesirable emotions, by turning them into museum exhibits, and thereby participating in the creation of a preserved collective emotional history.”
As for those “fresh start” resolutions that often accompany the New Year, if you have the inclination to ‘clean house’, the museum website offers the following opportunity:
“Would you also like to become a donor? Recently ended a relationship? Wish to unburden the emotional load by erasing everything that reminds you of that painful experience? Don’t do it – one day you will be sorry.
Instead, donate the objects to the Museum while recovering and take part in the creation of collective emotional history. Just fill in the donation form and you would receive a confirmation e-mail with a printable version of this form and further instructions. To keep the gist of your story, we encourage you to write in your first language.
In order to protect your privacy all the exhibits are displayed anonymously. Should you have any doubts or questions, feel free to contact us.”
* The Kenneth Hudson Award, given in honor of the founder of the European Museum of the Year, goes to a museum, person, project or group of people who have demonstrated the most unusual, daring and, perhaps, controversial achievement that challenges common perceptions of the role of museums in society and carries forward the spirit of Kenneth Hudson.
- The Museum of Broken Relationships (ridiculouslyinteresting.wordpress.com)