In late August of last year I found myself in the middle of Hollywood Boulevard with nothing to do. This is where you all scratch your heads and think “Huh, how on Earth can you have nothing to do in Hollywood of all places?”
Well, I’ll tell you how.
Because Hollywood Boulevard is one big circus. It’s crowded and commercialised and has a kind of seedy feel to it, yet at the same time it’s utterly fantastic. I mean, where else in the world can you find Elvis and Megatron breakdancing in the street while some random hip-hop artist beatboxes and plays drums on an upside down bin?
The commercialised aspect of it means that almost anything on the strip is kind of expensive, and very much the definition of a tourist trap. Don’t get me wrong, I love me a good tourist trap, but not when I have plans to visit Disneyland the very next day and would much rather plough all of my money into a snazzy set of Minnie Mouse ears (/hat). So yes, I found myself with 6 hours to spare in between checking out of my ridiculously over-priced hostel (£38 for a bed in a 10-bed dorm room – ouch) and catching the train to Anaheim.
A quick scan of Google Maps and a vague recollection of seeing some interesting looking museums during my lengthy walk along the whole Walk of Fame the previous day led me to make my way towards the Museum of Broken Relationships.
The plan was to spend a few hours there, grab something to eat and then head for the train.
Of course, as I left my hotel I got approached by a lovely man offering up one of those super cheesy Hollywood homes tours for a bargain price of about $15, and who was I to say no?
Thus, I promptly forgot about the Museum of Broken Relationships.
Fast forward five months and there I was in Zagreb, one of the greyest cities I’ve ever set foot in, on a hunt for the best museums in town.
And lo and behold, what do you know but the original Museum of Broken Relationships was right there, a mere 10-minute walk from my hostel! Not only was it the original museum, but the entry price was a whole lot cheaper than Hollywood’s interpretation. We’re not talking a few pennies either, we’re talking the cost of a kidney.
We’re not talking a few pennies either, we’re talking the cost of a kidney.
A fully grown adult (i.e. not student) entry ticket for Zagreb’s Museum of Broken Relationships is 30KN, so about £3.50.
The Hollywood exhibition, on the other hand, costs a whopping $18 USD (£14)!!!! That’s 4 times the price. Absurd.
When I told one of my friends that I was going to visit the museum, it’s safe to say he didn’t really share my enthusiasm. His response was something along the lines of “Why would you want to go somewhere like that?” and something about used sex toys.
I can sort of see where his hesitations came from. Visiting a place who’s core purpose is to commemorate the end of a relationship forever is kind of depressing, let alone actually paying to visit said place.
On explaining the concept, however, he sort of warmed to the idea. Then came my live updates from the museum, and a full debriefing when I got back to my hostel, and he was more intrigued than ever. What followed was weeks of him asking when I was going to write up a blog about the museum. So, G, here’s that post I promised you about 2 months ago now.
Museum of Broken Relationships is a physical and virtual public space created with the sole purpose of treasuring and sharing your heartbreak stories and symbolic possessions. It is a museum about you, about us, about the ways we love and lose.
The Museum itself is quite small, but they’ve managed to jam pack thousands of years worth of failed relationships into those 4 and a bit little rooms, so you can easily spend a good few hours there.
Every story came with an item.
That’s the point of the exhibit, really. You donate an item that is symbolic of your relationship. It doesn’t have to be expensive. It doesn’t have to be particularly heartbreaking. It doesn’t even have to be relevant.
There were love letters and teddy bears – the kind of things you’d expect to be left as a token of one’s past relationship. There were CDs and tapes: the more personal kind of items gifted from one lover to another. Then there were the totally and utterly random and quite amusing memorabilia – a bottle top, a toaster, one single shoe and a bottle of conditioner.
I think the toaster was one of my absolute favourites!
The toaster of vindication. I can’t tell you how long I laughed at that name.
I mean, is there anyone out there who doesn’t empathise with this toaster of vindication level of pettiness come the end of a relationship? Particularly if the end is particularly painful. Everybody wants to be able to toast their preferred item of choice (bagel, bread, pop-tart, crumpet etc.) at their leisure. But WOAH, what if all of a sudden your toasting rights are taken away from you?! And you have to fork out £30 for a brand new toaster?
I love everything about that. In fact, I kind of wish I had co-ownership of a toaster with my ex just so I could’ve had the opportunity to take it away from him.
You screw me over and jump in bed with another girl 3 days after I leave the country?! I take away your toasting privileges. Who’s the winner now?!
There were loads of downright comical entries just like the Toaster of Vindication, and they were so amusing that at times it was actually easy to forget why they were there. Your mind gets momentarily distracted from the fact that these items were the cause of a lot of pain and heartbreak in someone’s life at some point.
The Museum doesn’t just focus on the end of romantic relationships, either. There’s also a lot of familial relationships that are commemorated there.
A father’s love for his son or daughter is constant
A father has a direct impact on the well-being and development of his children
Children have a right to a continuing loving relationship with both parents
Children need to be protected from the harm of losing contact with one parent
When a son or daughter is alienated or estranged from his or her father, everyone suffers unnecessarily
Despite all this, the father-daughter and father-son relationship is unique and a father’s love for his children is constant.
This donation represents the last time this father saw his children.
This one broke my heart.
There were even more heartbreaking ones than this, too. Drug paraphernalia to commemorate a relationship broken when one party overdosed and died. A dress to commemorate a mother-daughter relationship which ended when the mother passed away, leaving her clothes behind in the possession of her daughter.
The way they arrange the items is quite clever. They tend to group all the cute and comical stories together, with one or two soul-destroying recollections scattered in between, and then all of the oh my God kill me now, this is too sad memorabilia huddled together in the two rooms at the end of the corridor.
There’s also a small podium sort of thing in the room which seems to be dedicated to death, where you can write or record your own message as a way to gain closure on one of your own failed or broken relationships.
I scribbled my message in the book, on a random page alongside a bloke called Klaus who said a fond farewell to Anna. At least, I assume that’s what he was doing. I don’t read Finnish or whatever language it was so I don’t actually know.
Anyway, I wrote a small, anonymous message, simply because I was there. I didn’t think it would bring any sort of closure or peace in regards to that specific relationship. But quite bizarrely, I walked out of that museum with an odd sense of lightness. It sort of felt like a weight was gone from my shoulders (or my heart, if we want to be specific) that I hadn’t even realised was there before.
And I didn’t even need to steal any toasters!
If you’re interested in reading more about the Museum of Broken Relationships, and maybe want to have a nose at some of the items on display, you can check out the main website here – brokenships.com. I promise it’s nothing to do with boats in need of repair.
Also, about a million different people recommended I check out this museum when I said I was going to Croatia – so thanks!! I honestly don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a museum as much as I enjoyed this.