Museum Honors Soured Relationships

A museum touring Eastern Europe makes use of old love letters and gifts from relationships gone wrong. The Museum of Broken Relationships gives new life to the leftovers from break-ups, one-night stands and ugly divorces. Scott Simon talks to the museum founders.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

There's a museum touring Eastern Europe that pays homage to the vestiges of relationships past, it's called the Museum of Broken Relationships, and it's filled with the leftovers from soured flings and ugly divorces, including a few from the founders who got the idea after they endured their own breakup. The founders of the museum, Olinka Vistica and Drazen Grubisic joins us now from the studios of Radio Croatia in Zagreb. Thank you both very much for being with us.

Mr. DRAZEN GRUBISIC (Museum of Broken Relationships): You're welcome. Thanks.

SIMON: So you were a couple for four years, right?

Ms. OLINKA VISTICA (Museum of Broken Relationships): Yeah, that's true.

SIMON: But what? You discovered that it was just - you had lots of stuff that had been shared property you didn't know what to with?

Ms. VISTICA: When we were deciding to split up, every time people do that it's connected with something ugly, something awkward, so we didn't like that way of dealing with our own past, which was once really beautiful. We got this idea, maybe it would be a great idea to have a museum where you could store your emotional heritage.

SIMON: So what's in this touring exhibit that originally belonged to the two of you?

Mr. GRUBISIC: The objects are from ours, from our friends, and from their friends, and so on.

SIMON: Well, things like what, though?

Mr. GRUBISIC: Well, what we expected at the beginning is that we would get letters and stuffed animals, I guess. To our surprise, we got just one letter and one stuffed animal and everything else was different. I mean, we had from bottles, tin fusers, straws from a cafe, a box of matches, and also an artificial prosthetic limb.

SIMON: I'm sorry, you mean like…

Mr. GRUBISIC: Did I caught you by surprise?

SIMON: You sure did. Like, an arm or a leg?

Mr. GRUBISIC: Yeah, like, a leg.

Ms. VISTICA: Nice big leg.

SIMON: What was the story behind that, you know?

Ms. VISTICA: This is an object from 1991, the time there was war in Croatia and, in fact, this prosthetic limb is a donation from a war veteran in Croatia who fell in love with a social worker in the hospital. And at that time it was very hard in Croatia to get good material for artificial limbs, and she helped him out to get the material from Germany. And he concludes in very funny and ironic way, saying, so the limb lasted longer than the relationship because it was made of better materials. So, it's…

SIMON: Now, there's an ax? I've been told about an ax.

Mr. GRUBISIC: After - the lady was left by her lover who also, unfortunately left her furniture in her apartment. She bought an ax and chopped every piece of furniture to little piles. She says that after a couple of days of chopping up furniture, she felt really relieved, and she can (Foreign language spoken)…

Ms. VISTICA: Recommend.

Mr. GRUBISIC: Yeah, she can recommend that kind of - to reveal the experience.

SIMON: You communicate very well, you finish each other's sentences, you have a lot of respect for each other, why aren't you together?

Ms. VISTICA: Come on, say your things, then I'll say mine.

Mr. GRUBISIC: No, go ahead. Well…

Ms. VISTICA: Relationships change and we have, as human beings, to accept that fact, you know, and something that comes after it doesn't have to be worse than it was before. So I think that what we made through this experience, we were able to overcome each other's differences which were obvious at some time, and we realized we cannot continue living this way in this kind of relationship. But we were able to transform it into something different, which is, I think for me, very precious, and I think it's for Drazen too. I hope it is.

Mr. GRUBISIC: So nicely put.

SIMON: Well, it's been just a delight to talk to both of you. Thank you very much.

Mr. GRUBISIC: Thank you.

Ms. VISTICA: Thank you very much.

SIMON: Olinka Vistica and Drazen Grubisic are the founders of the museum…

Mr. GRUBISIC: That's right.

SIMON: …thank you - founders of the Museum of Broken Relationships. They joined us from Radio Croatia in Zagreb.

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