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Noted: The Museum of Broken Relationships

May 27, 2011

by Alison Feldmann

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“Have you ever had a broken heart? Do you own an object that won’t let you forget? Become a part of global emotional history!”

So reads the mission statement for The Museum of Broken RelationshipsOlinka Vištica and Dražen Grubišić’s collaborative art project that is equal parts cultural history and emotional landfill. This collection of donated objects from failed relationships — from engagement rings to Polaroids to dirty underwear — speaks to the nature of love, loss, baggage and attachment on a global scale. As their Kickstarter page states, “Whatever the motivation for donating personal belongings — be it sheer exhibitionism, therapeutic relief, or simple curiosity — people have embraced the idea of exhibiting their love legacy as a sort of a ritual, a solemn ceremony. Our societies oblige us with our marriages, funerals, and even graduation farewells, but deny us any formal recognition of the demise of a relationship, despite its strong emotional effect.

In a recent interview with the Kickstarter Blog, the founders of the project shared some interesting trends they’ve observed in the course of their research: 

“Each new exhibition reveals something new and valuable about the influence of cultural and historical contexts. We were not surprised when the technologically advanced society in Singapore spoke about their break-ups through a multitude of digital gadgets: MP3 players, digital cameras, etc. A teddy bear from the same city told us a story of a teenage love between a Chinese girl and a Malay boy which was not approved by family and society. Numerous exhibits from Manila as banal as a daily newspaper, a film poster, or an hourglass witnessed how immigration for economic reasons to the US or Canada can break love, even wedding vows. In San Francisco a small deer made of bamboo told a moving story about the tragic loss of a loved one who suffered from PTSD after returning from Iraq. Not to mention numerous stories from Zagreb or Sarajevo, which are often marked by a painful and tragic dissolution of the country in the bloody war in ex-Yugoslavia.”

The Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston will present an exhibition from the permanent collection of the Museum of Broken Relationships on Friday, May 20, 2011. It will be on view through June 4, 2011. Support the Museum of Broken Relationships’ efforts on Kickstarter.

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67 comments

  • Addy

    Addy said 5 years ago

    This sounds like a fabulous project, I wish I were closer and could see it. This article means a lot to me right now. It's very true, we can express all the positives in relationships and share them with society, but the things that aren't quite meant to be have a certain shame to them and are often left private, even when that isn't in the best interest for those involved.

  • TurquoiseGypsy

    TurquoiseGypsy said 5 years ago

    what an awesome idea.. I love that these personal things so dear to us, while meaningless to someone else, can go for a cause - a universal one at that!

  • vKnit

    vKnit said 5 years ago

    Thank you for sharing this! :)

  • mystic2awesome

    mystic2awesome said 5 years ago

    Thanks for sharing your deepest most secret love legacy and providing an outlet for others to share, morn their loss and allow them to let go and/or move on in an artistic manner of creative art.

  • cookoutsidethebox

    cookoutsidethebox said 5 years ago

    thanks for this one! :-)

  • TwinkleStarCrafts

    TwinkleStarCrafts said 5 years ago

    A very special article...

  • marsiescrafts

    marsiescrafts said 5 years ago

    Wow a very touching exhibit makes me think of all the things I have held onto from lost love ones and one very bad marriage

  • Epiphany6andCo

    Epiphany6andCo said 5 years ago

    This is so interesting! I'm proud that the exhibition is being held at my alma mater. I'll have to go check it out before it's gone. Thanks for sharing:)

  • BetaBoutique

    BetaBoutique said 5 years ago

    This could be the sadest exhibition in world

  • MegansMenagerie

    MegansMenagerie said 5 years ago

    Thanks for sharing!!!

  • theroyal

    theroyal said 5 years ago

    interesting... but who sent in dirty panties :( yuck

  • redhardwick

    redhardwick said 5 years ago

    Thanks for sharing!

  • tennyoceres

    tennyoceres said 5 years ago

    This sort of thing makes me wonder how many people would give the classic keepsake of broken relationships: Plush dolls. Maybe the museum can make a monument of them. It's funny how objects that are supposed to represent the joy of two people together turn around to symbolize reminders of what tore them apart.

  • jammerjewelry

    jammerjewelry said 5 years ago

    Wonderful article, Thanks!

  • hattieshouse

    hattieshouse said 5 years ago

    thank you for this article, it allows me to sit and think of what objects I still hang on to, even though my loss of love was forever ago.

  • LakesEdge

    LakesEdge said 5 years ago

    lol dirty panties seem a bit much but to each their own haha, i love the idea, it's a monumental process letting go of the holding on we all tend to do from time to time.

  • TheVioletHeart

    TheVioletHeart said 5 years ago

    Lovely tribute to losses and broken dreams. I found their website here: http://new.brokenships.com/en Too bad I missed it when it was in SF in 2009.

  • wahlrus

    wahlrus said 5 years ago

    Fascinating. It is a loss we don't openly recognize as a loss- a fact which probably boosts sales for Ben & Jerry's. LOL Beautiful idea! EtsyLove from, Jamie

  • debrairizarry

    debrairizarry said 5 years ago

    I love this idea; I have quite a few objects myself...

  • VogueByVague

    VogueByVague said 5 years ago

    i love this idea! alas i've thrown away all my former lives. I'll leave it to the pro's....

  • thevelvetheart

    thevelvetheart said 5 years ago

    Wow. Wish I coudl see this. Although, I think it would be an emotional collection....

  • LoveYourBling

    LoveYourBling said 5 years ago

    Fascinating!

  • ElvenWreathsJewelry

    ElvenWreathsJewelry said 5 years ago

    VERY INTERESTING ARTICLE

  • LivingVintage

    LivingVintage said 5 years ago

    An amazing idea that somehow seems it would make the loss a little less hard to bear.

  • rebourne

    rebourne said 5 years ago

    Do pieces of unrequited love fit in to this exhibit as well? If so, I'd have a lot to add for submission!

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery said 5 years ago

    Interesting project, I think everyone always hangs on to a little bit of something from old relationships. Gone but not forgotten eh!

  • baublesnfripperies

    baublesnfripperies said 5 years ago

    Wow, I got goosebumps just reading this.

  • travellingjeweler

    travellingjeweler said 5 years ago

    This is such an awesome idea -- spurs other creative ways to deal with other emotions.. love it! Thanks for the article!

  • frenchdip

    frenchdip said 5 years ago

    it seems that the first storque article that I click on each time I check the front page is written by you! such great inspiration and articles, thank you

  • dadadreams

    dadadreams said 5 years ago

    I can't wait to see the exhibit at The Blaffer.

  • SerantoniDesigns

    SerantoniDesigns said 5 years ago

    Thank you for a touching piece. I created my own take on this theme: http://www.etsy.com/listing/72823580/tenderly Continued success, Mary Serantoni SERANTONI Designs

  • WoolnFelt

    WoolnFelt said 5 years ago

    well I cant send my tattoos or my kid, Can I?....

  • TheScarfTree

    TheScarfTree said 5 years ago

    What a unique idea - but I can see that being of some relief, shedding the old, to move onto the new! Very interesting topic! Thanks!

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage said 5 years ago

    Thanks for the article!

  • mathildacraft

    mathildacraft said 5 years ago

    That is so awesome. I have often thought about this type of thing before and I am very pleased to find that some others have done something with it. I, myself, usually keep my ex-boyfriends' objects (spare a few stuffed animals I donated). I only know of some site that sells jewelry from girls' exboyfriends (exboyfriendjewelry.com... or something like that). I can't wait to see this exhibit! I love stories; tragedies as well. :)

  • ThePolkadotMagpie

    ThePolkadotMagpie said 5 years ago

    What a great idea!!! Thanks for the blog.

  • styleforlife

    styleforlife said 5 years ago

    What a concept.....incredible. Thanks for sharing!!!!! XXXXX EL VIntage

  • AccentsandPetals

    AccentsandPetals said 5 years ago

    Great and interesting concept. Thanks for sharing.

  • Iammie

    Iammie said 5 years ago

    Interesting.

  • kathyjohnson3

    kathyjohnson3 said 5 years ago

    What a wonderful way to let go

  • Zalavintage

    Zalavintage said 5 years ago

    I love your blog, always fresh stories with just the right details! Keep them coming. By the way, my daughter just let go of a sentimental object from someone she no longer wants in her life, doesn't have to be romance. Someone should start a website museum.

  • IceCreamCandy

    IceCreamCandy said 5 years ago

    thank you for sharing this:)

  • Wingnut51

    Wingnut51 said 5 years ago

    I wish I could go to the Museum. Seems like it would be very interesting :)

  • TheMillineryShop

    TheMillineryShop said 5 years ago

    It must be some sort of catharsis, to purge yourself of the very items that represent failed love yet have that very relationship validated by being part of a permanent collection. And I wonder how many people simply can't part with the odd detritus left behind. Oh yes, love is weird!

  • fbstudiovt

    fbstudiovt said 5 years ago

    This. Is. AMAZING. It might just have catapulted me out of the creative rut I've been plagued with the last few weeks...

  • MishaGirl

    MishaGirl said 5 years ago

    Interesting idea for an exhibit. Thanks for sharing!

  • charmgirl11

    charmgirl11 said 5 years ago

    so true. we don't honor the loss of a love which when ends, is often grieved like a death. this really honors what was, and it’s a good home for treasures saved from past loves... no matter who you are, no matter where you are, a broken heart is a broken heart. anyone who has loved can relate... very inspiring. xo

  • Tina669

    Tina669 said 5 years ago

    Thanks for sharing!

  • ChelseaKatherine

    ChelseaKatherine said 5 years ago

    I love this. I have always documented my heartache; my journals seem to be my own museum of broken relationships. I would love to one day see a museum of pivotal journal entries.

  • girliepains

    girliepains said 5 years ago

    great idea

  • beadazzledjewels

    beadazzledjewels said 5 years ago

    Wow! What a great idea. I know I've gotten rid of a lot of stuff lately with now painful memories attached to them. It would be so interesting to see what other people have gotten rid of because of their own stories. You find out that there are so many others in this world who have suffered just as much as you have and also those whose suffering is no where near anything you can imagine. It's always nice to know your not alone.

  • lazydayz

    lazydayz said 5 years ago

    wonderful idea! all relationship loses are emotional and this is such a creative way to recognize that.

  • BanglewoodSupplies

    BanglewoodSupplies said 5 years ago

    Awesome idea. And, about time! Our whole media world is surrounded by happy endings. I write for female targeted media outlets and if your story doesn't have a happy ending. It will NOT get picked up. This "happy ending" trend has created a bias mentality and bias reality for women and men. Women are sad if they are not in a relationship. Women are sad if their husbands do not bring them flowers every day. The expectations are way to high for real life. Excuse my rant, I am very passionate about this. We are so miserable because of what we see in the media...our beauty, sizes, economic status, educational status...everything....

  • mazedasastoat

    mazedasastoat said 5 years ago

    As a long-time pagan, I'm pleased & slightly amused to see one of "our" ideas being hailed as radical. Several of our festivals can revolve around ceremonies where an old experience is left gently in the past where it belongs, to save you carrying it any longer. Maybe the more ceremonial way of ridding oneself of negativity speaks more strongly to the inner self and proves more effective than simply nagging yourself to forget, maybe making the action into a ritual makes it more important & meaningful, maybe doing the thing publicly means you're less likely to induge in backsliding or maybe it just means more if you do it with greater intent. I must stress though, that it's only the hurt we try to discard, any wisdom we've come by will be added to what store we already possess.

  • chanelb1989

    chanelb1989 said 5 years ago

    It's interesting how inanimate objects seem to be able to hold emotions such as joy or sadness. I love the idea of healing through the public acknowledgement of loss.

  • clayslipper

    clayslipper said 5 years ago

    I'm afraid I prefer to shout it out when something bad happens and then be alone for a while. I would, however love to see the exhibit. I called Houston home years ago. Wish the exhibit were in LA.

  • ChrissiesRibbons

    ChrissiesRibbons said 5 years ago

    This is so touching and thought provoking. Great article... would love to see it for myself

  • indigobjects

    indigobjects said 5 years ago

    The wisdom in such true collaboration could certainly avert broken relationships.

  • SereneSiren

    SereneSiren said 5 years ago

    I've fortunately been married 35 years and yet I agree with so much of what I see above. There have been painful reminders of issues we have had, that ended up recycled into another place where they don't have the same meaning for others. I've been blessed as he is a friend & partner as well as husband but it took a lot of work on both our parts. We've both broken each others hearts, re-mended them and continue to this day to work at the relationship because we've learned there isn't a happy ending, it's a journey. We just happen to converge onto the same path from time to time. Sometimes the small day to day things like noticing when the other is in pain and taking over the responsibilites for them does more than the flowers/candy/gifts. As for rituals and ceremonies, I agree these can go a long way to remove the deep hurt that can poison a relationship.

  • WigglinWasabi

    WigglinWasabi said 5 years ago

    I definitely have a few items that would fit right in! A journal my ex wrote during and about the demise of our relationship, that he later left on my windshield... I can never quite recycle it, but I COULD send away to a museum...

  • MursBlanc

    MursBlanc said 5 years ago

    curious... thanks for sharing... :D

  • archaicdesign

    archaicdesign said 5 years ago

    incredibly moving.

  • straightfrommyheart

    straightfrommyheart said 5 years ago

    It's awesome awareness. I've fortunately been married for 37 years and my story sounds twinlike to yours SereneSiren.

  • RadicallyRetro

    RadicallyRetro said 5 years ago

    Alas all the personal objects I had from broken relationships such as wedding rings, engagement rings etc… I threw into the sea on day in a moving ceremony of personal release I created for myself… I am a psychic person I didn't want to recycle the symbolic energies of those broken periods of my life to a human being there was too much negativity of personal loss attached to them and as a psychic I know personal objects do carry vibrations for others to extract if they are so inclined. One of the Goddesses of the Sea, APHRODITE got my rings, along with all those very personal memories attached to them... she is better equipped to recycle those vibrations of love loss and sorrow within the depths of her being and I am glad I released them to her to do so….

  • adoodle

    adoodle said 5 years ago

    i'd love to see the exhibition! a great idea!!

  • redemptionart

    redemptionart said 5 years ago

    Wow, sorry I missed this one! Great idea, can I send the bills he left? LOL!

  • PamelasDesertRocks

    PamelasDesertRocks said 5 years ago

    My husband had me read this graphic novel where the artist included torn pieces of love letters and other stuff from his broken relationships. I thought it was a bit creepy at first but then I was intrigued and wondered what is the best way to heal from heartbreak? Maybe if we share the pain, it seals the hole in the heart?

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