Why am I attracted to crowds? To airports, to libraries? To stories without endings, to ancient grocery lists left in books at flea markets? Why am I intrigued by the anecdotes told off-handedly by people I’ve never met? And why do images — children sleeping on trains; an aging bus driver who carries a photo of his first day of work; a hitchhiker wrapped in a blanket at the end of a day – make me feel something?
It’s got to be the humanity. It’s the realization that no matter who we are or where we grew up or what we have done, we are all part of the same species with the same basic food-water-shelter-love needs.
Over. Done. Finished. Broken.
All the ways one describes the end of a relationship.
As humans, we celebrate marriages, we celebrate anniversaries. Birthdays, funerals, religious sacraments, graduations. All these major milestones are addressed by society and yet the milestone of an ended relationship is ignored and must be internalized by those involved.
The Museum of Broken Relationships strives to change this through a presentation similar to that of the “Humans of New York” (and other “Humans of…”) storytelling. Everyday people from all over the world contribute items and memories to the curators who then have the incredible job of choosing which make it into the museum.
A stiletto heel, a stuffed loon. A red wedding dress, a mother’s suicide note. All accompanied by a story submitted by the one who lost someone important. Some stories are of betrayal, some of death, some of distance, some of love that just simply stopped. All are stories of raw humanity.
The hardest are the ones that remind us of our own lives. A bottle cap that reminds me of the one I kept from that one night back then. A story that hits just a little too close to personal events. A mention of a name or a situation, of something that could have been donated by me.
Because of course, we are all human. As much as we like to share our joys, we like to feel that our pains are personal and unique. This museum brings forward the fact that broken relationships are just as common as a birthday and often they happen in similar ways.
Perhaps this place moves me because it’s a community created exhibit, constantly growing with a “confessional” book filled with scribbles from museum guests. Perhaps I love it because it’s impossible to know whether to feel happy or sad as you walk through. Or perhaps it felt important to me because it highlights a piece of humanity that we all feel but we all like to gloss over. It reminds you why we’re all similar. It reminds you that we’re human.
The Museum of Broken Relationships finds itself both in Zagreb, Croatia and Los Angeles California, with touring exhibits around the globe.