Love Hurts: A Visit to the "Museum of Broken Relationships"
"He said that for 30 years, he never loved me at all. I don't understand." reads the sad story behind this plush Snoopy at Zagreb's Museum of Broken Relationships.
People can sometimes be accused of wearing their hearts on their sleeves. But in the Croatian capital of Zagreb there's an actual place where people from all over the world have put their broken hearts on display... in a museum case.
It's called the Museum of Broken Relationships, and while it may sound like a joke, it has become a popular and well-regarded attraction. It started in 2006 with a temporary, touring exhibit. In 2010, it became a permanent part of Zagreb's art scene, with a second museum now operating in Los Angeles.
For 25 Kuna (about 4USD), I decided to see this quirky little museum for myself, and I was blown away by the quiet, emotional power of it. it is one of the most interesting, coolest, and moving small museums I've ever seen.
There are stuffed animals bought at amusement parks, drawings and ticket stubs that are reminders of love gone wrong. One exhibit is an old internet router bought by a couple in San Francisco, with a one-line description of "we were not compatible." Another is a positive heroin test that proved a woman's boyfriend was lying about his recovery. Another is an axe, used by a cheated-on man to chop up his ex-girlfriend's furniture.
But there's more than the romantic, nostalgic and quirky here. There is a cord of barbed wire, representing bitter feelings toward a father who was never there. There are the dresses and shoes of a beloved mother who died too young from cancer. Most heartbreakingly, there is a simple handwritten suicide note that an Amsterdam woman left for her son
("To write a letter under these circumstances is almost impossible...")
While this museum does not carry the emotional weight of one dedicated to disaster, war, or genocide, it does succeed in the poignant display of everyday tragedies we've all lived through. No one gets through this life without losing someone, whether by breakup, abandonment, or death. This museum simply takes the personal and makes it communal. We hurt for the jilted, we seethe for the abandoned, we mourn for those left behind.
To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, it's a museum of, by, for and about all of us. And for that, it's a museum worth visiting if ever you find yourself in Zagreb.