The museum of Broken Relationships is an art project started by Olinka Vištica and Dražen Grubišić in 2006. It is a good way to say goodbye to our love stories that never worked out. It has been growing since 2006 and has now a travelling exhibition in addition to its original permanent location in Zagreb. The United States also has its own museum of broken relationships. In 2016, John B. Quinn founded the Hollywood version of the exhibition in Los Angeles.
It is a museum that collects stories and things from people all over the world. Anybody can share their experiences. Then it is made into an exhibition where visitors can see the items and read shorter or longer stories connected to the items. It may sound like there are only sad stories but some of them are also funny and sweet, not all the relationships have to end in a destructive way. People usually think it is about love stories but it also has stories about families, parents, friends. The ones who break our hearts, do not always have to be our love partners. Sometimes we end relationships with people who we have been together since forever. Luckily, life always gives us new people and relationships. To take the museum and experience closer to the readers, we also share some stories from people.
The data makes very clear the interest generated by this exhibition. Two permanent museums, a working exhibition and 50 past exhibitions make it very clear that the phenomenon does not leave the spectators indifferent. We visited the museum in Zagreb and now it Skopje. Of course, the museum in Zagreb is bigger and has more stories, I would also say more heart-breaking stories but it is always interesting to read about local loves. I had never heard about this museum before but I really liked the idea, it is a perfect way to let go of whatever needs letting go. It even changed my views on certain topics, gave me more personal feelings about what is happening in the world right now. For example, there was a story about woman and who were supposed to get married but the soon-to-be-husband died in a terrorist attack and it made all of this more personal to me. It is not easy to see the news but I never thought that somebody might lost his or her happiest day in their lives because of that.
If the reader does not have enough time to attend any of these exhibitions, the museum has created its own book to be able to enjoy all these stories from home. The book contains 203 objects of everyday life that donors have donated to the museum with their corresponding stories. When we started writing this article, we appealed to the people around us to share some of their stories with us. Thanks to them today we can present our small version of the museum.
‘’We met four years ago in Tinder; I never believed that you can find someone from this app. The first time I met him face to face, was so scary and exiting. He was an exchange student from Canada. We shared the next four months together, with an amazing nights and talks. I loved his humour. One night I told him that I don’t know how to shake my ass in the clubs; he got up from the bed and started to shake his ass in the middle of the room naked, wearing only socks. We laughed together, and I always felt so comfortable with him. The closer his departure back home get, stronger feelings from my side started to show up. Last night before his flight I was at his place helping him to pack up. He was cleaning the room and collecting all the Euro coins from the floor to my hand, since he didn’t need them anymore. One coin was Canadian dollar with beaver on it, and I kept it. I have nothing else from him except the memories we built up together, and still, after so many years, I feel such warmth in me when I think of him. After he was gone, I cried like a baby for days but then I got my first honest smile of this feeling, that I had a chance to experience something like him.‘’
The Little Boy
‘’I met him in a party and I never wanted anything to do with him. I felt so young at the age of 17 watching him being four years older. He was talking to me few weeks, didn’t give up until I agreed to meet him again. From there started our short journey together, we never spent a day apart from each other. I had this feeling that this might become my first serious relationship. Once he handmade me this childish bracelet with letters “I love you”. We were happy, and suddenly, out of nowhere he stopped answering to my texts and calls. I waited for a week, trying to reach him. I gave up, drove to his house where his father answered the door. I explained the situation and asked if I can pick up my stuff. I don’t have the bracelet anymore, because I was so devastated and broken so I left it to his house as a sign that our love no longer exist. Few days after that he drove to my house to bring me some other stuff I left behind, we sat in the car. I cried to him and tried to get some explanation, he just sat with me 5 minutes without looking me to my eyes even once. He said that apologizes are pointless. In our relationship he always called me little girl since I was younger, but after this situation I realized that actually he was the little boy. I didn’t cry for him longer than few days after that. ”
“It happened back in the day, when I was still learning joinery in vocational school. I was popular in the school for some reason, I even won schools popularity contest called the dance king. Even my costume was a pirate with the wooden leg. The following situation took place on my second course. I was 18 or 19 she was bit younger than me. She was the vice president of our student council. Her name was Maria and she was the best friend of our student council president Krista. Of course I was inverted about Maria, she looked stunning and she was a lovely kind person. She was far better than the older girls that surrounded me and asked me to give them baby and things like that. Previous year I had a group of three girls who were completely absent with me, bothering me all the time. To this day I know that Maria was the only one how got her life in order of those three, so she was breath of fresh air to me. We get along very well. I could even say that the girl was star struck for me. All of a sudden I started to notice that she was getting closer with her best girl friend, but I ignored that. Around her birthday, I wanted to take the friendship to next level, and then it happened. She admitted to me that she is in to girls. I thought she just wanted to let me down easy by making excuse like that, even she was sorry. Actually I didn’t even believe her until I heard that the same story happened with my classmate Thomas. He was a young successful business man, who also was rejected by Maria. From here I realized it was not me, Maria really was in to girls, and we had just a precious friendship. Thomas was as shocked as me at the beginning, but finally we had a good laugh together even we both lost the girl. To this day I still wonder, would I have succeeded with Maria if only I knew a how to pickup her. Maybe not. No point of speculating here.”
‘’First meeting that I can remember with my father was when I was 18 years old. They made an agreement with my mother that he don’t have to be part of my life, if he doesn’t want to. When I met him, he was happy to see me and made many plans for the future, to meet my unknown sister from his side and it seemed like we are going to built up father daughter relationship. After that few years passed without contact, until we met again in bar where was all the friends my mother used to know when she was young. He gave me twenty euro’s laughing and saying “Father will pay”. After that, we never kept contact or meet again. And I never actually wanted, I was never sad about it. My mother was always like both parents to me and she did amazing job. People are usually careful with this topic with me, but I am happy like this. Why would you miss something that you never had?’’
‘’I was fifteen and he was fourteen, we were kids with no experience with other person in your life. The path to us being together was full of butterflies in my stomach. Our first kiss happened in the middle of the street full of snow. Since it was freezing, we walked around one building, every time stopping to same point to stare each other, without the courage to kiss. After third or fourth round, he finally kissed me. After that we were together few months, which felt like so much more. Scared but ready, we wanted to lose our virginities to each others. I loved to spend nights with him, only lying on a bed, with the excitement of a “first love”. We started to have such a teenage drama and complications later, we broke up but kept contact sometimes. Years passed. One night I was lying on my bed, discovering from his Facebook page that he committed a suicide. I believe that in older age he started to have some mental problems. I cried few tears, sad about that he ended his life. I also smiled to our memory and thanked him of being my first experience of feelings like that. Even I don’t believe in heaven, I still, sometimes, look to the sky and smile to him. I hope he is happy now’’
My Polish Love Forever
“I`ll never forget my first visit to Poland. In that cold winter, traveling together with a lovely girl, still just a colleague from work. Early morning in Warsaw, sleepy and a bit tired of the trip, but still looking good and happy where we are. We took the metro as the rest of the crowd, two foreigners looking strange but still fancy, speaking foreign language but still Slavic one. Just to be sure, not to miss the stop I wanted to ask for an advice. And there she was, standing bravely just across, a step or two away from me. Our eyes met in a moment with a flash of a smile and a burst of energy exchange, causing a new Big Bang. I felt the flow so strong, up and down my body and all over again. I put myself together and asked. She explained to me with that voice of an angel without taking off the eyes of mine. Mesmerized, as we stared at each other`s eyes like there nothing else to see a side, smiling, slowly coming to our minds what was really happening. My colleague noticed that in a moment, smiling so nice and telling me sweet things how that is Love but I still could not take off my eyes. My lovely colleague, she could have been my girlfriend, wife or something but the girl didn`t mind, just her eyes full of love saying: I`m yours and you are mine, till the end of time.
The reality got me again soon enough. It was our stop, time to get off. She just pointed at the door with her hand, still smiling so nice. The moment when you want to stop the time but the time was gone. I knew deep in my mind that awesome moment didn`t last long but that was a moment when we really stopped and got out of the time, that ugly linear flow showing no mercy, no respect. A closer touch on the way out, still staring into each other`s eyes, sharing plenty of love and that was all: I left her there or she did cut me loose with the soft bang of the sliding doors. No names, no phones, no social profiles, just hearts beating in rhythm no matter how far they are. Yes, a relationship that actually never happened but still it will last more than forever written in the records of stars.”
If after reading this article you believe that you can contribute with your stories to the continuation of the exhibition, being part of it is very simple. First you have to choose where to donate your story. At this moment, the “Digital Separations Collection”, the Global collection in Zagreb and the York collection in the UK receive donations. Both the exhibition in Zagreb and the “Digital Separations Collection” are always open to donations but if you want to be part of the British collection you must make your donation before February 21st.
Ana Fernández Hernández