#27 Museum of Broken Relationships

My name is Leah Melber and I would like to adopt the Museum of Broken Relationships.

Museum of Broken Relationships (Image courtesy of Jenni Fuchs)

Museum of Broken Relationships (Image courtesy of Jenni Fuchs)

Tell us a bit more about yourself

I am currently the Director of Student and Teacher Programs at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago and have been involved in museum education for over 20 years. I’ve had the good fortune to work with colleagues from a variety of different disciplines as a presenter, evaluator, consultant, and collaborator. I received a promising leadership award from the Association of Midwest Museums in 2010 and was recently appointed to the Fulbright Specialist Roster. Like most of my colleagues, I honestly can’t remember the last trip I took that didn’t involve at least one museum visit!

Tell us a bit more about your adopted museum
The Museum of Broken Relationships is located in Zagreb, Croatia. As the name suggests, the museum explorers through ordinary objects the complexities of relationships and the pain they can cause when they end. Though based permanently in Zagreb, the museum does travel a sub-section of its collection internationally. Open year round, the museum has extended hours in summer. A nominal admission fee is in place. Its pleasant, adjacent cafe is an excellent place to share thoughts about the exhibit post visit.

Why have you chosen to adopt this museum?
I was introduced to the museum while in Zagreb for a museum conference and what became immediately clear as I explored the space with colleagues is that whatever one’s background, education, or field of practice, the theme of relationships, or more specifically the end of relationships, is relevant to all. The Museum of Broken Relationships, through its subject matter, and reverence with which it pays to an ordinary object for no reason other than what meaning it held for the teller of the story, inspires emotional reaction, and deep, social engagement among its visitors. I was inspired to see the sheer range of audience the museum attracted, all seemingly equally engaged with the exhibits of the institution. There are objects and stories to inspire uncontrollable laughter as well as deep sadness and I doubt anyone will exit without having connected personally to at least one of the stories presented.

Why would you recommend people visit?
Should one find themselves in Zagreb, a visit would simply not be complete without having made it to the Museum of Broken Relationships. Though the subject matter is by its nature best for adult visitors, other than that caveat, the museum is well suited for all: From the loyal museum fan to the one who frankly finds them dry and dull. As the objects have been donated from heartbroken folks from around the world, the message that heartbreak as a true cultural universal is incredibly clear. Those in love can wander through and be giddy and thankful such things are no longer in their future. Those fresh off a break-up can be comforted that there is an entire world of people out there sharing in their misery. And rather you choose to focus on the exhibits that inspire giggles or those that spark tears, ending the visit with a glass of wine or cup of tea at the adjoining cafe while flipping through the exhibit catalog you purchased in the gift shop will surely be a memorable part of your visit.

How would you sum up your museum in three words?
Memorable, Significant, Affecting

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