In the shadow of the Lotrscak Tower in Zagreb’s Upper Town lies a museum dedicated to failed relationships. Beginning as a traveling exhibition, Zagreb’s Museum of Broken Relationships, is a tribute to the notion that not all relationships work.
Located in a traditional building, the Kulmer Palace, this non-traditional museum exhibits objects that people have held onto following the end of a relationship. The museum accepts donations of personal artifacts, which have been received from around the world. The bilingual stories in Croatian and English are powerful and in some cases, I almost found myself gasping for air, as the stories communicated a great sense of grief. This museum is a catharsis for the trauma of ending a relationship.
Several rooms of displays include:
1. A stuffed rabbit that was going to travel around the world, but the relationship only made it as far as Iran.
2. A red reindeer from Peru from an excited newlywed celebrating a first Christmas together who sadly discovers her marriage would not last a second Christmas.
3. Two ceramic figures from Ireland donated from a woman who bought one each for her two children after fleeing an abusive husband in the United Kingdom.
4. A love letter from a 13-year-old boy on meeting a young girl fleeing the siege of Sarajevo.
5. A car mirror that had been removed from a vandalized car after a girlfriend discovers her boyfriend had cheated. His car faced her anger.
This museum explores tough topics including betrayal, false love, death, politics and war, disease, addictions, violence and revenge. The stories themselves can be disturbing, emotional or moving and I found myself reading the story of each and every donated object.
The cold walls in some of the rooms also reflect the chill in a relationship and the starkness of the end of something that wasn’t meant to be. The white-tiled rooms almost seemed like a mortuary, signifying the death of a relationship.
Included in the various rooms is a map of the traveling exhibition which has been around the world. To me, this map shows that broken relationships translate into any language and culture.
For 25 kunas, this museum is fascinating and well worth the admission price. Facilities also include a small gift shop and a coffee shop.
Alfred Lord Tennyson said “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”. The Museum of Broken Relationships is a critical reminder of the frailty of the human heart when love ends and loss begins.
Museum of Broken Relationships
Sv. Cirila i Metoda 2
10000 Zagreb, Croatia