Most of us have been through the searing pain of a break-up — you know, the crushing notion that you very well might be incapable of love, the lingering thought that you’ll probably die alone, etc. The worst part about the end of a relationship, however, can be living with all of the objects that remind you of the person you once thought you were going to spend the rest of your life with. How can you live another day with that Precious Moments doll your boyfriend got you when you broke your wrist? How are you supposed to move on when you can still smell Stacy’s shampoo on your pillow? Luckily, there’s a museum in Zagreb, Croatia that will take these items off your hands and turn them into terribly depressing art: The Museum of Broken Relationships.

divorce day mad gnome museum of broken relationships
The Divorce Day Mad Gnome. Poor guy.

The idea behind the museum is very straightforward: people from around the world take an object that represents some aspect of their failed partnership, write a short description of its importance, then send it to the museum to be put on display. Some examples of items in the permanent collection include an axe that a scorned boyfriend used to destroy his girlfriend’s furniture when she ran away with her lesbian paramour, a man’s cell phone that he gave to his lover so that she couldn’t call him anymore, and the “Divorce Day Mad Dwarf” — a mangled garden gnome that a woman threw at her husband’s car when he told her he wanted a divorce.

This adds a whole new dimension to the idea of “dark tourism“, doesn’t it?

Opened in 2006 as a traveling exhibit, the Museum of Broken Relationships found a permanent home in Zagreb and has been accepting donations ever since. According to the museum’s website:

Whatever the motivation for donating personal belongings – be it sheer exhibitionism, therapeutic relief, or simple curiosity – people embraced the idea of exhibiting their love legacy as a sort of a ritual, a solemn ceremony.  Our societies oblige us with our marriages, funerals, and even graduation farewells, but deny us any formal recognition of the demise of a relationship, despite its strong emotional effect.

In essence, this unique museum is a space where the destruction left in the aftermath of a breakup is transformed into creation; the intangible emotions resulting from trauma take on a physical form and, in turn, a new level of importance. Holy crap, that made me sound deep.

I have never been a huge fan of “found art” (that urinal is just a urinal, Duchamp), but this is an idea I can really get behind and subsequently sob all over. Unlike most museums, which are filled with priceless works that take a semester-long art history class to understand, the Museum of Broken Relationships houses objects with little to no monetary value. The power of these items comes from their sentimental value, and even though visitors aren’t personally connected to the displays they can relate to each one due to the shared experience of love and loss.

I’ve always wanted to go to Croatia, but now I feel like a trip to Zagreb is necessary. I’m a sucker for some quality catharsis (you should see me watching the movie The Hours) and this takes it to a whole new level. So if you hear a story about a man being arrested in the Croatian capital for running through the streets naked and hysterically screaming “love is dead!” — yeah, that was probably me.

Featured Image courtesy of Kris*M via Flickr
Photo via thisbelongsinamuseum.tumblr.com  


Steven tried out for The Amazing Race one time and was denied. We're not saying this is why he started this site, but it may have been a contributing factor in his decision to explore the world online and share his travel inspiration with others.

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