Collecting Shards Of Heartbreak


Aminatta Forna describes the creation of the Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb, Croatia:

Olinka Vistica and Drazen Grubisic, the museum’s founders, were once a couple in love. One hot summer some years ago they stopped being in love and began to divide the contents of their apartment. Theirs had been an amicable split, though no less sad for that, and so they sorted through the rooms together, parsing shared memories of their relationship. Cups, CDs, ashtrays, coffee grinders, pans, rugs, books, badges, scarves: “even the most banal object [had] a story to tell.” These were the sorts of objects every well-meaning friend, every self-help manual, every magazine article offering advice on how to recover from heartbreak urged people like them to throw away, burn, break or give to charity—to get rid of at all costs. When love ends there must be no reminders.

But this pair didn’t wish to do any such thing. They wondered at the mercilessness of disposing of the evidence of love that may have given years of joy and much pleasure. They decided to curate a travelling exhibition of donated items, to offer bereft lovers the chance to create a ritual, an alternative to the vandalism proposed by the self-help manuals—”a chance to overcome an emotional collapse through creation”, as the printed sign above Ana’s boots tells newcomers.

From Forna’s tour of the museum:

Against the opposite wall is a shaving kit given by a 17-year-old girl to her married lover in the late 1980s. When he donated it to this museum, the married man wrote: “I hope she doesn’t love me any more. I hope she doesn’t know she was the only person I ever loved.”

(Photo by Flickr user woodleywonderworks)