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Arts and Entertainment

Photos: A Look At The Relics From The Museum Of Broken Relationships

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The Museum of Broken Relationships won't officially open in Los Angeles until May, but they've been doing small pop-ups around town to give us a taste of some of the items found in their collection. Some of the pop-up items are on loan from the museum's original location in Croatia, while others are the result of a call for submissions the museum put out to fill their U.S. outpost.

The original Museum of Broken Relationships was founded in Zagreb, Croatia by Olinka Vištica and Dražen Grubišić, two artists who dated for four years, but broke up in 2003. The idea is that couples who break up will donate the things that serve as painful reminders of their former lover versus throwing them out or destroying them. It began as a traveling exhibit, but then turned into a permanent brick-and-mortar institution in 2010.

At a recent pop-up at The Ace Hotel in Los Angeles, we were able to check out a few of the sad, but oddly relatable objects. Guests clustered around, each reading the submitted stories that accompanied the items. Some stories are heartbreaking, some amusing, and others manage to be uplifting, even if rooted in heartbreak.

One case contained a transplant caretaker manual donated by an Ohio individual who said that they cared for their partner during his struggle with cystic fibrosis, but that he left them two weeks after finally receiving his double-lung transplant. Another case contained a a pair of large, fake breasts, donated by a Serbian woman whose her husband gave them to her to wear during sex. This tactless gift was what inspired her to leave him.

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But not all of the submissions are from forsaken romantic relationships. One of the most heart-wrenching items was a lottery ticket from Spain that represents the demise of a decades-old friendship. The writer explained that they were part of a four-person group of friends that had done everything together for over 60 years.

One day, however, I discovered they had been doing something without telling me: they had been playing the lottery, the special one for Christmas (it is a tradition in my country: you buy a number together with your friends and/or family). How did I find out? Because they won a big prize. I felt so sad and disappointed when I found out that I fell ill. They didn't know what to say when I asked them why they hadn't told me; they only made excuses. The worst thing is that they never phoned me again. People told me they are too ashamed. Maybe. Only one of them contacted me again, sincerely apologized and came back into my life. But the other two…They won the prize, but they lost a real friend. Losing friends is hard when you are young, but losing them when you are living the last years of your life is even harder.


"I grew up." (Photo by Juliet Bennett Rylah/LAist)
The item that seemed to draw the most empathy was a Peter Pan plush toy. The former owner of the toy was a man from Woodland Hills who bought the toy for himself on his 25th birthday to remind himself to stay young. Approaching 50, however, he's lost that little boy.

Grand dreams have rotted away, imagination lies in a dusty corner of an abandoned house down the street, and inspiration carried off by the autumn winds. But rather than just say all this, I think the caption for this little toy could be nothing more than, "I grew up." Seems more elegant somehow.

Another Southern California story involves an anonymous individual who fell in love with a junkie, finding his antics "charming." He once gifted the writer with a telephone receiver he'd ripped away from a payphone in Echo Park.

Perhaps the oddest L.A. story involves a vase full of paper flowers. The writer said that in 2013, they met someone with whom they fell swiftly in love. The pair frequently shared poems with each other, but the writer's object of affection was often distant and non-communicative. One day, the writer decided to make a play for more serious relationship. They folded the poems the pair had shared into delicate flowers, and showed up at the museum where their lover claimed to work. The only problem was that no one at the museum had ever heard of or recognized the person. The writer called their beloved and asked where they were. "I'm just leaving work," they said. When the writer told them that they were at the museum, the flighty lover hung up.

L.A.'s Museum of Broken Relationships will be located at 6751 Hollywood Blvd. near Hollywood and Highland, and will contain about 100 items. If you would like to donate something that reminds you of your broken heart, you can fill out a form to do so here.