Museum of Broken Relationships

An item in the Museum of Broken Relationships
Patrick Bitter, via Flickr

What happens after a relationship ends? Colin Lowther and Liz Waid look at a museum that collects things left at the end of a relationship.

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Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Colin Lowther.

Voice 2 

And I’m Liz Waid Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

Today’s Spotlight is on a small museum in Croatia. The museum shows a collection of objects from around the world. Together these objects tell a story about human relationships. They tell stories of love and heartbreak, breakups and the end of relationships. Many people think of their own stories and experiences as they visit the museum. After seeing the museum, one writer simply said:

Voice 3 

“No museum has ever made me feel more connected to everyone else in the world before.”

Voice 2 

This museum began because of a relationship between two people. Olinka Vistica and Drazen Grubsic are both artists. In 1999 they were in love. They were in a happy relationship. They shared stories and traditions together. Grubsic described some happy moments to the news organization NPR. Vistica and Grubsic had a special object that they shared - a toy bunny.

Voice 4 

“This was a kind of joke we had. If someone was going away on a trip and the other one was staying, you would take the toy bunny. You would take pictures of the bunny in all the places where usually you would take pictures of your girlfriend or your boyfriend.”

Voice 1 

However, Vistica and Grubsic broke up - they ended their relationship in 2003. After they broke up, they tried to separate their possessions. But as they were separating, they could not decide who would get their toy bunny! The object held special meaning for both of them. So, who would get to take it with them? They joked that they should begin a museum. They could keep the bunny and other special objects from their relationships there. But at this time, the idea was only a joke.

Voice 2 

However, three years later, Grubsic went to Vistica. He asked if she would begin a museum with him. The museum would show objects from people’s break-ups. But they needed more objects to show. So they asked their friends to give objects from their own break-ups. Each object also had a story that explained what it was and why it was important. The story explained why the object was important to the relationship.

Voice 1 

At the beginning, there was only a small collection. The collection travelled to different parts of the world. And it was popular wherever it went. People could even give the collection their own objects and stories to show.

Voice 2 

In fact, the collection became so popular that Grubsic and Vistica opened a permanent location to show it. In 2010, they officially opened the Museum of Broken Relationships. Today it is in Zagreb, Croatia. More than 40,000 visitors from all over the world visit the Museum of Broken Relationships every year.

Voice 1 

People sometimes feel sad when they see objects from broken relationships. But Vistica believes that putting these objects into a museum can help people. She told the BBC:

Voice 5 

“The normal reaction is to destroy the special objects of a relationship in order to recover. But we thought of using creativity to overcome the pain of the experience. Also, we can remember the joy those objects once held for us.”

Voice 2 

Inside the museum, the walls are all white. The objects sit on white tables. There are about 100 objects shown at the museum at one time. Visitors to the museum follow a path through different rooms. Grubsic and Vistica organize the objects in a particular way. As a person looks at each different object, he or she can see another part of the story of love and heartbreak. Grubsic explained to NPR.

Voice 4 

“For me, the art in this is the way we present the stories. You start with the funny ones. Then you get serious, then you get really deeply serious, and then you go up again. So there is this continuing movement of emotions. That is actually what we play with.”

Voice 1

The rooms in the Museum of Broken Relationships tell stories from different times in a relationship. For example, one room contains objects and stories from relationships that were never very serious or relationships where people lived far away from each other. Another tells stories of relationships that ended because one person died.

Voice 2

In one room, there is a pile of air sickness bags. People find these bags on airplanes or trains. If a person gets sick, he can use them. The collection contains six of these air sickness bags. The bags represent many airplane trips that one person made to see their love. Near the six small bags there is a story. It says:

Voice 6 

“I think I also still have those illustrated safety instructions, showing what to do when the airplane begins to fall apart. I have never found any instructions on what to do when a relationship begins to fall apart. But at least I still have these bags.”

Voice 1 

One room shows object from relationships that ended in anger. For example, one object in this room is a mirror from a car. A woman broke the mirror off the car. She saw her boyfriend’s car at another woman’s house! She was so angry that she broke the mirror and took it with her.

Voice 2

In another room the stories are about getting married and broken marriages. In this room, one of the objects is an iron - used to remove wrinkles and lines from clothes. The story with it says:

Voice 7  

“This iron was used to iron my wedding clothes. Now it is the only thing left.”

Voice 1 

The Museum of Broken Relationships tells a universal human story about love and heartbreak. Many people can understand these objects and these stories. They have also experienced heartbreak in their own lives. Nikolina Vulic is the events manager at the museum. She tells NPR:

Voice 8 

“Some people are smiling when they come out of the museum. And some people, you can see they are thinking about themselves. They are really a little confused when they come out, and you can also see tears in their eyes.”

Voice 2 

Have you ever experienced a breakup with the person you loved? How did you react? Would you ever give an object to the Museum of Broken Relationships? What would it be? Tell us your story about breakups. Leave a comment on the script page of this program. Or post your story on our Facebook page.

Voice 1 

The writer of this program was Liz Waid. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United Kingdom and the United States. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at This program is called, ‘The Museum of Broken Relationships’.

Voice 2 

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

*Some of the music in this program came from Podington Bear.

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Have you experienced a breakup with someone you loved? What did you do with the objects you collected from that relationship?


Luis Piedra's avatar
Luis Piedra
said on January 13, 2014

Excellent program
Thanks Spotlight

Avatar Spotlight
said on January 14, 2014

In my opinion, almost each of us experiences break-ups in life. However, the people react differently, they are in despair of it, they are in depression, other people get angry or even begin to hate and want to revenge. In spite of it remembering the past time spending together remain in our mind for a long time such as we still keep some small varied objects like thy symbols of the past.
I also experienced the event. when my close friend died suddenly, these moments were terrible very much. Fortunately, our heartbreak is not permanent, the life goes on, our hurted heart is healing slowly during the time - this is the constant hope of ours,
I think the foundation of Museum of Broken Relationship is a good idea, seeing these different objects may be meaningful and helpful for some people.

Avatar Spotlight
said on January 14, 2014

The idea of making this museum seems an interesting idea. Wise people invent strange ideas enough to make some money. Doing this maybe can recover the first love of Croatian couple who now are the owners of museum. On the other hand when someone broke up and create a new relation with a new person, it is better to forget the first relationship. Otherwise the second relation is in risk to break up too.

Thank you Spotlight Radio

Avatar Spotlight
said on January 15, 2014

Excellent topic
To remember funny moments with the partner, places or shared gifts whole nice, but as always came the breaks up instant. Everything goes down you feel as the world fall apart
I think that everyone have a little museum in our hearts.


Avatar Spotlight
said on April 07, 2015

One day my English will be good enough to tell you what I really think about Museum of Broken Relationships (I hope so). Now I can’t still.
I can just say:
How will you feeel in a place like this museum depends on your past: if your hands are clean you wouldn’t have a tear on your cheek. If you was unfair you will have it.

Severino Ramos da Silva's avatar
Severino Ramos da Silva
said on May 17, 2016

From: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (Severino Ramos)
To: spotlight program
Subject: answer to the question above
Date: Tuesday 17, May 2016
São Paulo SP Brazil

Dear Liz Waid, Colin Lowther, and Michio Ozaki:

No, I have never. But, I think that if someone really loved other person so everything about this person, would continue important in their hearts between each other after their separation. Your girlfriend or boyfriend is already a girft for each other so, nothing is necessary to give to each other. However, if you collected or received something from your girlfriend or boyfriend and broke up with he or she these things should be kept in a safe place next to you in your house. Museum is a place to put older things, arts, Pictures from famous painters such as Pablo Picasso, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Leonardo da Vinci, Van Gogh, Frida Kahlo, Di cavalcanti, Alfredo Volpi, Cândido Portinari, and etc. If you put an object in the garbage can in which you received from your boyfriend or your girlfriend is because you never loved him or her. Although, it is not necessary to keep the hope to return to each other but, between each other there was a sincere feeling. Therefore, that feeling cannot put into the garbage can or at the Museum. I am single.  But if I were married or if I had a relationship with someone, I would do in this way. God taught us in this way to keep good things next to us. Thanks!

Yours regards,
Severino Ramos

Kaleb Kolaibi's avatar
Kaleb Kolaibi
said on May 17, 2016

I think that relationships without married (like a girlfriends and boyfriends relationships) are just SEX relationships under name LOVE!
A real relationships love are married relationships.
Where you are (as weastern) from Jesus and Bible?!

Koyunbaba's avatar
said on May 24, 2016

The first Step. 24/05/2016.

Avatar Spotlight
said on February 08, 2018

Love is beautiful. Big challenged love is beautiful. We live to be a good person. Beautiful good things exist. We respect beautiful good things. We love beautiful good things. We live to be a good person. We live to be a good person with all our effort. Life has ups and downs. Difficulty, challenge and suffering are big. We live to be a good person. Beautiful good things exist.