Museum of failed love offers balm for heartbreak

SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - From an empty ring box to sexy lingerie and a pair of fur-lined handcuffs, an exhibition of the relics of failed love has come to Asia, hoping to bring solace to the heartbroken.

The “Museum of Broken Relationships”, which opened in Singapore on Wednesday, is a traveling display of items related to failed relationships donated by people who live in the cities the museum has visited.

Concept founders Olinka Vistica and Drazen Grubisic decided to set up the exhibit in Croatia after consoling friends over failed romances, and hope its global tour will offer people the chance to overcome the pain of heartbreak through art.

These remnants of several love affairs have so far shown in Croatia, London, Berlin, and Singapore is their first Asian stop.

“The Museum of Broken Relationships is an art concept which proceeds from the assumption that objects possess...holograms of memories and emotions, and intends with its layout to create a space of secure memory in order to preserve the heritage of broken relationships,” says the exhibit’s website.

“That’s why it could be therapeutic.”

The museum, which has actual displays as well as a virtual, online space, has everything from romantic letters to photographs to gifts given to lovers such as soft toys, but also includes unusual exhibits such as a prosthetic leg donated by a war veteran who fell in love with his physiotherapist.

In Berlin, an axe used by a woman to break up her ex-girlfriend’s furniture, along with the broken furniture, was on display alongside a wedding dress and a pair of skates.

Every single object in the museum is anonymous, and has a short description of the relationship it was part of.


In Singapore, some 20 to 30 items are on display -- including the prosthetic -- as well as letters and pictures.

Vistica said the exhibition helps give people a place to get rid of, yet keep safe, emotionally laden items, adding that getting donations in largely conservative Singapore was not any more difficult than any other city.

“People are a little bit hesitant, but when they come and see the exhibitions, sometimes it gives them the courage to give something later,” she told Reuters.

From Singapore comes a brown teddy bear named “My Malay Bear”, which is all that remains of a failed romance between a Malay woman and a Chinese man who met in this multi-racial state where marriages between different ethnic groups are uncommon.

The woman kept her relationship a secret from her disapproving family and, unable to keep photos or other mementos of their relationship, only had the bear she received from her boyfriend as the sole symbol of their love.

According to the description tagged to the bear, nobody even noticed when she no longer kept the toy on her bed after breaking up with her boyfriend.

The exhibition is part of the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival 2009, featuring more than 20 works from 12 counties, and runs January 7 to 18 at the Esplanade.

People wanting to donate items can do so via its website,

Editing by Miral Fahmy