Museum of Broken Relationships

On Saturday (the 14th), a friend and I visited the Museum of Broken Relationships, which is currently at Root Division here in San Francisco. The museum was founded in Zagreb, Croatia in 2006, “dedicated to broken hearts”:

The Museum of Broken Relationships is an art concept which proceeds from the assumption that objects possess integrated fields – ‘holograms’ of memories and emotions – and intends with its layout to create a space of ‘secure memory’ or ‘protected remembrance’ in order to preserve the material and nonmaterial heritage of broken relationships.

It has toured several countries – this is its debut in the United States.

The museum is built of donated artifacts, each with an anonymous story about the relationship it represented. There was a large variety of artifacts, such as the handcuffs in the poster shown above. There lots of love notes, the most interesting was one that was pasted to a mirror which was then shattered and the pieces cut out and encased in glass. There was also a large number of stuffed toys, such as Valentin below:

Some more toys, a prosthetic hand and a wedding dress:

There were a surprising number of prosthetic body parts on display, including the hands shown above and a leg with an interesting story. The story for the wedding dress can also be found online here.

The stories are as diverse as the artifacts themselves. Many of the standard broken-relationship variety: “it wasn’t meant to be” or “over the years we drifted further apart.” Some involved tragic events, the death of one or the other parter in the relationship.

One image that was rather sad involved a small painting of the Sesame Street character Grover. It was painted as an affectionate handmade gift to someone who kept a stuffed version of Grover, but the recipient then dismissed this gift as “childish.”

A funny piece was a set of shot glasses donated by someone in San Francisco (there were several local pieces donated), with the tag line “PS: his name is Larry and he is an asshole.”

The evening opening was actually quite crowded. I suppose I should not have been surprised so see so many people out to celebrate broken hearts on Valentines Day. However, judging from the attire of many of the visitors, they were stopping here either on the way to or the way from a romantic dinner. Or maybe this event was their “date”, as there was plenty of food and drink provided.

There was a brief performance piece involving an accordion and a dancer in a symbolic tying and unraveling of knots. It was rather difficult to see or here, given the density of the crowd.

Root Division does seem to have some interesting exhibits. Next month is an exhibit dedicated to algorithms, mathematics and problem solving. Now attempting to relate that back to broken hearts…