The Museum of Broken Relationships can be found in Zagreb, Croatia. It’s a new type of museum that is way more interested in the stories behind the objects than in the objects themselves. When I visited recently the audience was made up of all sorts of people, mostly, it has to be said, having a good time, judging by the laughter, despite the fact that much of the museum’s content is very poignant.
In the museum are displayed ordinary items which carry an extraordinary meaning to the people who donated them. For example, there is a wedding gown from Zagreb itself; the caption reads:
"After big words and little action, he spent more and more time talking and less and less time acting. I paid for it all fair and square: both my wedding gown and his bank loan."
There is a postcard showing a man and woman sitting beside each other on the grass, with a handwritten inscription, from Yerevan, Armenia, donated by a (the?) woman, now 70 years old. She wrote:
"This is a postcard that was inserted through the slit of my door a long time ago by my neighbour’s son. He had been in love with me for three years. Following the old Armenian tradition, his parents came to our home to ask for my hand. My parents refused saying their son did not deserve me. They left angry and very disappointed. The same evening their son drove his car off a cliff."
There is a single stiletto shoe from Amsterdam. The caption reads:
"It was 1959, I was ten, T. was eleven. We were very much in love… When I was fifteen we had more wonderful times together until he moved to Germany with his parents. Our goodbye came with many tears and promises. We would write every week and never marry anyone else.
"It was 1998 and I had just stopped working in prostitution. And that was when I recognised him: “T., is that you? He was startled and stood up. At once we were back in 1966. T. was now in his second marriage and he wanted to make it work. It was better we never saw each other again. After a few hours we said our goodbyes, and he asked: 'Can I keep one of your stilettos as a memento?' When he walked out the door, it felt like my stiletto-less foot was no longer mine."
Star revenge item for me has to be ‘The toaster of vindication’, from Denver, Colorado. The caption reads:
"When I moved out, and across the country, I took the toaster. That’ll show you. How are you going to toast anything now?"
Priceless. As is the Museum of Broken Relationships.