Museum of broken relationships zagreb croatia

In 1415 Charles Duke of Orléans wrote a poem to his wife while imprisoned in the Tower of London. The poem of sombre yearning is considered to be the oldest Valentine in existence and since then billions somewhat more joyous valentines have been sent.

While February 14 may typically be a day for celebrating love, it is also a day for mourning broken relationships. It makes sense, given that the average person is left heartbroken at least twice in their life. Enter the Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb, Croatia.

The museum is exactly as it sounds; people who have been left utterly heartbroken submit an object that reminds them of their lost love. In turn, the Brokenships collection has become everyman’s museum, safeguarding the mementos and memories of once thriving relationships.

The museum is one of the most visited attractions in the Croatian capital and has frequent installations abroad. While on paper it may appear to be humorous, the exhibition is in fact thought-provoking and moving with a sardonic sense of humour.

The objects range from the obvious – teddy bears, wedding dresses and engagement rings – to the obscure – an airsickness bag – perhaps a somewhat questionable memento of a long distance relationship.

The most brilliant part of the exhibition however is the handwritten notes accompanying each piece.

Some notes are humorous. The former owner of a pair of garters wrote: “I never put them on. The relationship might have lasted longer if I had.”

Others are angry: “I’m just really sorry I didn’t smash this pen the moment I got it, because I wouldn’t have written all that romantic crap he didn’t deserve.”

And others are unbearably sad: “Although it was a relationship that started with promises of the eternal life together, it ended abruptly, as if cut with scissors. The ring didn’t end up on a finger but, sadly, in a museum…”

Perhaps the most poignant message of the museum is that no matter who we are, what we do or where we live, we are all humans enduring the same trials and tribulations, completely exposed to the sometimes fleeting nature of love.

Words by Victoria Drysdale

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