Museum of Broken Relationships

Urška Purg

Can you imagine yourself standing in front of an used toaster for more than five minutes? Or in front of one legless caterpillar toy? Or even being addressed by a broken and dusty old garden gnome without a nose?
As impossible as this may seem, in Museum of Broken Relationships you will catch yourself doing exactly that – absorbing the most unusual objects and their even more appealing stories for minutes. Some do it for hours. This is the only museum that motivated me to read almost all of the texts they have next to the objects. No matter how long. Twice. With a year brake in between. In addition, I hate reading much text in museums.

I guess it’s almost obvious to say, they nailed it with the topic selection, since broken relationships are one of the most universal topics ever. Transnational, cross-border and relatable to anyone – after all, we all have a few broken relationships in our closets. It not only evokes our emotions, but also our memories and our own experiences from the past. Despite being a company, that named themselves a museum, visitors from all over the world are coming in masses and no one minds the entrance fee. They even got the Kenneth Hudson Award for the most innovative museum in Europe.

Museum is placed in a quite suitable building in Zagreb that once was an apartment. Some leftovers are still visible throughout the exhibition. To make as much emphasis on the objects as possible, entire interior is in white. By everything being white, it appeared to me that the objects come out of space. I find that perfect, since they launched me directly into another world. While strolling around the museum, this is exactly how I felt like – being in a parallel universe, or buried deep in the collection of one very diverse novel. It’s like going on an ultra-short roller coasters of emotional stories. In short, the personal stories behind the most random objects achieve luring out your emotions. You feel the pain, the happiness, the sorrow/ … of the people, who have sent their memories of their broken relationship to the museum. Moreover, easily, one of these objects could be yours. I caught myself repeatedly playing in my thoughts, what I would have done in a similar situation.


One of the most quiet museums I’ve ever been to./ Najbolj tih muzej od vseh, v katerih sem bila.

Some stories are sad, some filled with anger, some witty and in need of a conclusion, and some truly painful. Some stories – no matter how short, even give you goose pops. From time to time, it feels like peeking through the private house’s window and pressing fast forward button to be able to follow the most exciting parts. This is where the smartness of the idea behind this museum pop-ups – this is a museum of all of us. Of all of us, who, while cycling to work on mornings try to come up with an excuse for being late. It’s a museum of people like you and me, who while steering the babbling pumpkin soup, are thinking about this and that. It’s a museum of people who used to loved and love.

The objects, as various as they are, seem to be following an invisible order – firstly you meet the stories of young(er) love’s ends. Then more serious follow through cheating and adult dispersals, to painful family broken relationships. The walk concludes with mature (if one could name them so) brake-ups and ended marriages. The darkest stories are placed into the most shattered part of the house, where the bathroom used to be, I imagen. Some find this annoying however; I like the setting and the atmosphere it creates. Those old damaged bathroom tiles are perfect for the weight of the stories the objects presented there reveal. They could even be placed into basement, if there would be one, since those are the stories majority wish to hide from the world. Yet, here they can be told here – from strangers for strangers.


The heaviest stories in matching scenographic atmosphere./ Najtežje zgodbe v ujemajočem prostorskem predelu muzeja.

I would say this is not merely a museum. It allows people anonymously reaching a conclusion of their bonds in hope of moving on. I also found this museum one of the quietest ones, with everyone reading the texts, no matter how long. Everyone is trying to grasp the stories and after the visit, when leaving the museum, feel better about themselves. It almost gives a similar uplifting feeling like watching Keeping up with the Kardashians, or Big Brother show, where you feel normal after that.


A confession room in the end of the museum for visitors’ inputs./ Spovednica na koncu muzeja je namenjena doprinosom obiskovalcev na temo razhajanj ali zgolj vtisov o muzeju in videnem.

I have been very happy with my second visit in Museum of Broken Relationships; however, I have stumbled upon some things that were slightly irritating. Despite all of its informality, which is warmly welcome because of the personal stories, English could be a bit better and according to the English grammar rules. I was also curious to watch the videos they have decided to include on a display. Despite being very interested, I could not bear watching them – the sound was disturbed and crumbly, which made it impossible to listen. That particular element could, or should really be improved. Alternatively, it should not be there at all. Finally, having more chairs around the place would not hurt. After stepping out of this special emotional zone, your spine and legs hurt. Fortunately, a cute museum cafe is there, where you can finally rest right after having a quick stop in a well thought through museum shop on your way out.

Overall, museum theme, and the fact they have constantly on-going travelling and temporary exhibitions, dealing with the most current social issues, is just so perfect I can only wish I had thought of it myself. And they even have a twin-brother in L.A.!



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