Editor's Note: The museum is closed.
Focused on the alternative museum concept of heartbreak, the Museum of Broken Relationships can be visited in Los Angeles, California. Beginning as an art project in Croatia, the concept grew in popularity and now there are two museums the first is in Zagreb, and the second is located in the heart of Los Angeles. The museums explore broken love through different mementos that represent personal histories of failed relationships. The unique subject matter has allowed thousands of visitors to understand more about the complex topic of heartbreak and challenges their perceptions towards both pain and healing.
The idea for the exhibition began from an ex-couple Olinka Vištica and Dražen Grubišic who used their breakup to create a creative art project. Beginning in 2006, they built a travelling exhibition that was centered on the concept of failed relationships. The collection became a permanent part of the city of Zagreb, Croatia in 2010 when the Museum of Broken Relationships opened. A decade later, in 2016 a second location was opened in Los Angeles and is filled with a diverse collection of personal keepsakes and stories. Even with the two permanent locations, there continues to be exhibits that visit different cities around the world which provide a dialogue to human nature.
The Museum of Broken Relationship takes real life pain and explores the idea of broken love and the end of relationships with family members, romantic relationships, friends, cities, and religions. The collection is composed of anonymously donated objects from members of the public and stories are submitted with the items to recount an event from someone’s life. Within the museum there are different sections, which organize stories and tokens, there is the main gallery space, the virtual section and the Confessional. The heart of the exhibit is filled with mementos, photographs, and letters that are displayed with the dates and locations from the personal stories. There is a large diversity of objects that encourages visitors to reflect and discuss the social, cultural, and political circumstances that surround each event. To discover more stories, the online section of the collection is filled with more images and stories, which reflect a wide range of emotions such as growth, sadness, and hope. For guests who feel compelled to share their stories after reflecting on others, they are invited to go into the Confessional. It is an interactive aspect to the museum that allows visitors to record their stories or leave their objects or letters.
The museum is always accepting donations to add to their diverse collection from people who would like to share their story. There are no restrictions on what is donated, whether it is an extremely fragile or a large item. This creative outlet is open to the public to add their mementos with a description that allows others to have a glimpse into the anonymous donors experiences. Each items is displayed with a title, date, place of origin, a story, and the style which stories are decided by the anonymous donor. For some the Museum of Broken Relationships is therapeutic and for others it provides closure from a difficult chapter of life. It is a story filled museum that allows peoples stories to be heard both anonymously and throughout the travelling exhibitions.
Outside of the permanent locations of the museums in Europe and North America, there are many exhibits that visit different cities across the world. Some of the past cities that have featured the collections from the Museum of Broken Relationships include Helsinki, Heidelberg, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Cape Town, and many more. The exhibition in Helsinki focused on the similarities between crutches and plush toys in the context of failed relationships. In the Helsinki City Museum there are already many items displayed from personal experiences of locals, and they were a temporary home for 40 Finnish and international displays that were centered around the concept of hardship of love and beauty. The romantic city of Heidelberg was another stop on the travelling exhibition tour, with stories that date back to the early 20th century and continue through history to present time, there are many objects from the museums’ collection that are displayed.
This unique museum concept offers an artistic opportunity to overcome an emotionally difficult time by sharing personal stories with the permanent collection. The alternation space in Los Angeles explores feelings, cultures, social contexts, and personal experiences that each visitor can relate too. The emotional complexities of the exhibits are meant to teach, comfort, and challenge visitors on the subject of love and heartbreak.
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