Like most people, I trashed just about everything my boyfriend had given me after we broke up. What was personal I dumped in the garbage, what was possibly meaningful to someone else, I gave to Goodwill.
That's the way it usually goes when two people part, because when relationships end, they are usually deemed failures, and we move on, eager to forget. However, the Museum of Broken Relationships seeks to change that outlook.
Far from a punchline, or a Chicken Soup for the Soul-style pity party, the museum wants donations of objects that once meant the world to still mean something. A token of shared human suffering, an offering of closure of a chapter in one's life, "be it sheer exhibitionism, therapeutic relief, or simple curiosity — people embraced the idea of exhibiting their love legacy as a sort of a ritual, a solemn ceremony," reads the website.
Each of the items in the museum's holdings comes with a story from its donor. These include a cell phone — "He gave me his cell phone so I couldn’t call him any more" — a wedding dress, a "Divorce Day Mad Gnome" with a suitably crazy story and pink fuzzy handcuffs. Naturally.
While the brick-and-mortar museum resides in Zagreb, Croatia (home of its founders, who broke up), portions of the collection travel internationally. And one portion is currently on display at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art.
BMoCA's 40-"story" exhibit opened on Valentine's Day (of course) and runs through May 26. It couches the show in the same philosophical terms as the collection's parent:
[A]s more and more people experience several significant relationships during their lifetime, with second and third marriages becoming increasingly common, we begin to acknowledge that our expectations and needs change as much as we do as we live longer, more educated, and self-determined lives. Simultaneously, the notion that the person we spent part of our life with was just “the wrong one” and should be erased from our memory becomes less plausible.
If the breaking-up thing is too much of a bummer though, you can, instead of parting with your relationship mementos, create a new one with BMoCA's March 1 HeARTifacts: a workshop for pARTners.
With your boo — or anyone, really — you collaborate to map your partnership. Using some guidance from an instructor, pairs will create a timeline of their relationship and divine meaning from what they've made. "Each participating couple will develop a personal atlas charting how their relationship started and developed as well as how it will continue in the future."
The workshop lasts three hours, supplies food and drink, and costs $45 to $50 per pair. Interested? Call 303/443-2122 to sign up. And if you're flying solo, you can check out the rest of the museum for a mere $4 to $5 any day of the week except Mondays.
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