We’ve all had a relationship with someone go wrong and then vowed to eradicate that person from our lives. Maybe you've paused when rediscovering a memento from the time together and have struggled to throw it out. You might not have known that there's a good place to send the objects that defined your failed relationship.
Founded in 2006 by artists and ex-lovers Olinka Vištica and Dražen Grubišić, the Museum of Broken Relationships serves as a repository for your dirty laundry. Anyone can send in an object with an accompanying story to be exhibited in one of the museum’s touring exhibitions. It has travelled around the world, stopping off in numerous countries including the United States, Mexico, Argentina, Taiwan and France. This summer it's in London for the second time and also forms part of Southbank Centre’s Festival of Love from June 28 to August 31, 2014 (free entry).
The stories range from humorous (the husband who left and took the “his” towel from a set of “his and hers”) to tragic (the man who bought his lover the same “special” present two years in a row), and most are based on items that were given as a gift to the person who submitted it.
These items are included in our pick of 10 objects from The Museum of Broken Relationships and their accompanying stories. Here’s to hoping we can learn from their mistakes.
Length of relationship: Spring – Autumn 2003
Location: Sarajevo, Bosnia, and Herzegovina
“I never put them on. The relationship might have lasted longer if I had.”
A Brazilian note
Length of relationship: 2009 - 2013
“[…] He gave me his email written on a Brazilian bank note, because he said he didn’t have any business cards. I knew he was just trying to seem cool. […] I felt sorry for him. We got married. He took a lot of my banknotes. And a lot more.”
Length of relationship: 2009 - 2013
“One day she covered my face with paper, moulded my features with love, and softened every part of my skin with her fingers; now only a mask remains, of a love that never was.”
Teddy Bear holding Roses
Length of relationship: January 2004 - February 2005
Location: Baldock, England
“...It kind of summed up how little he understood me. I’m the last person to appreciate a small stuffed bear—I don’t do 'pink and fluffy!'”
Hers hand towel
Length of relationship: 18 years
“Somebody gave us the naffest of all presents—a set of his and hers hand towels. When our marriage broke down, and he moved out, I realized he had taken the ‘his’ towel and left the ‘hers’ behind.”
A boyfriend hat
Length of relationship: 2000
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
“She always called it that; said she liked it because it looked like a man’s hat, but it really suited her. I only found out two weeks ago that it was her boyfriend’s hat, and she was still sleeping with him.”
Book by Alice Munro “Something I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You”
Length of relationship: 7 years (1984 - 1991)
“He bought it for me twice, once in 1987 and then in 1988. In retrospect I realised he had HUGE amounts to tell me—he was the biggest liar and philanderer I’d ever had the displeasure of knowing! […]”
Picture painted in acrylic
Length of relationship: July 29, 2012 - December 16, 2013
Location: Cuernavaca, Mexico
“This…is called Micropapillomatosis, and it is a small representation of the generous ‘gift’ from my ex (that and debts to the gynaecologist. Thank you, you asshole!) And since I can’t donate this virus because that would mean tearing out my vagina, I’m giving it to you in this little painting.”
Handmade Cardboard CD Case
Length of relationship: Six-ish years
“This corrugated cardboard vessel once housed a romantic mix CD, given during a period of long-distance dating. Inscribed with the following hand-written text and a drawing of a clock: ‘This is a magical time-travel mix. Listen to it, and we'll be 30 minutes closer to see each other. Do not abuse your new powers.’”
A Popple (toy)
Length of relationship: June 2006 - October 2013
Location: Burlington, Vt.
“[…] I gave the Popple as a gift after learning that she never had one as a child, and then suggested it should remain unopened. And it has. A demonstration of my need to control. […] With it I wish to donate my regret, dear, indifference, inflexible nature and the recognition and appreciation of her dedication to exist under the crushing weight of who I am. […]”