For a voyage into the more tumescent recesses of the human psyche then there are few better starting points than Zagreb’s Museum of Broken Relationships (Muzej prekinutih veza), the celebrated art installation that became a permanently grounded museum in 2010. It started out as an exhibit at the Zagreb Salon of 2006, at which co-creators Olinka Vištica and Dražen Grubišić (themselves a former item) displayed a collection of objects connected with all aspects of break-up, many of which were donated by friends with a story to tell. The exhibit struck an instant chord with the public, and became an international travelling exhibition, adding to its collection as more and more people donated meaningful mementoes.
Now located on the ground floor of Gradec’s Kulmer Palace, it’s a compelling and unique museum of wistful memory and raw emotion. Each of the exhibits is accompanied by a text explaining why it was so significant to the donor – some are touching, others quite kinky; and a few belong to the obsessive world of a David Lynch movie. The broken relationships in question aren’t always what one expects; one member of the public donated the hands of his favourite mannequin, another an oil painting of a politician who failed to deliver. Among the most poignant exhibits is a comic book purchased after a particular break-up – because the ex-boyfriend in question had departed leaving nothing to be remembered by.
It is also one of the few Zagreb museums that has a genuinely cute café and a well-patronized shop: Bad Memory Eraser pencil rubbers are the big sellers.