The Museum of Broken Relationships

I spent much of yesterday wandering around Zagreb with Mihaela seeing the sights. That included riding the funicular railway and visiting the railway station for Kevin’s benefit. I also got to visit one of Zagreb’s most famous tourist destinations, the Museum of Broken Relationships, which is one of the most bizarre and disturbing museums I have ever seen.

The basic idea of the museum is very simple: people donate personal items that they feel are somehow symbolic of a personal relationship that has ended. They also provide an explanation. The museum then puts these on display. Mostly these are love affairs, though I did spot one exhibit that was a magazine announcing President Obama’s election victory, donated by a dissatisfied former supporter.

There’s a huge range of different reactions to break-ups on display. In some cases you get the impression that the person making the donation is very self-centered. In others you wonder how someone could have been that dishonest and cruel to a person that loved them. In a few cases the donations are deeply moving.

The exhibit that affected me most was a key. It was a large, ornate item, very like the mediaeval keys I saw later in the Arts & Crafts Museum. It was, apparently, one of many gifts given to the donor. The write-up of the entry went approximately like this:

You gave me so much, but you would not sleep with me. I didn’t know how much you loved me until you died of AIDS.

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