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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. NPR's correspondent in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sean Carberry recently vacationed in Croatia. He sent this postcard of his visit to a rather strange museum in Zagreb.

SEAN CARBERRY, BYLINE: I confess I'm not much of a museum tourist. Here in Zagreb, I've already bypassed a number of arts and culture and history museums. But I've just stumbled across one museum that's far too unusual to pass up. It's called the Museum of Broken Relationships.

DRAZEN GRUBISIC: I'm Drazen Grubisic. I'm co-author and co-owner of Museum of Broken Relationships. It's a collection of objects donated by people who have broken up. Each item has accompanying story.

CARBERRY: The idea came out of his breakup with Olinka Vistica, who is the museum's co-founder. As they were splitting, they couldn't decide who should take possession of a toy bunny they shared. They decided why not create an art project to display the bunny. They reached out to friends who donated items that were symbolic of their broken relationships.

The initial temporary display was such a success that they traveled the world doing exhibitions. In 2010, they set up the permanent museum in Zagreb.

GRUBISIC: For me, the art in this is the way we display the stories, you know. You start with the pretty funny ones, you know, then you go down, then you go really deep down, and then you go up again. So, this roller coaster of emotions, that's actually what we play with.

CARBERRY: The first room is about casual or distance relationships that don't work out.

GRUBISIC: The next room is, we call it Whims of Desire. And it's about the objects that are left from this first phase of relationship, when you're all into each other, and so it's pretty sexual stuff.

CARBERRY: Like garter belts and furry handcuffs.

GRUBISIC: And then, after that comes Rage and Fury. And here we have items that are mostly torn and broken.

CARBERRY: For example, there's a car mirror on display. A woman broke it off her boyfriend's car when she saw it parked in front of another woman's house. The next room is about relationships that end in death. That room is followed by one called the Rites of Passage.

GRUBISIC: It's the things about weddings, some wedding gifts, albums and...

CARBERRY: An iron that was used to - what does it say? This iron was used to iron my wedding suit, now it's the only thing left.

GRUBISIC: Yeah. So, I guess the marriage didn't last long.

CARBERRY: But the museum just might help some relationships last longer.

GRUBISIC: It's nice to see couples, you know, they walk in like a bit at a distance. They always go out like hugging and stuff and like holding each other. OK, this should not happen to us.

CARBERRY: On the way out, people pass Nikolina Vulic, who's been events manager at the museum for three years.

NIKOLINA VULIC: Some people are smiling when are coming outside. And then some people, you can see like they are thinking about themselves and they're really like a little bit confused when they are coming out, and you can also see tears in the eyes.

CARBERRY: Do you ever feel a little bit like a therapist? Do some people on the way out just want to talk to you, they want to share things?

VULIC: This is a normal thing for us but mostly people are joking about it, so.

CARBERRY: So you never have to hug someone who's crying?

VULIC: Sometimes we hugging, yeah. Yeah, that's a part of the job.

(LAUGHTER)

CARBERRY: Nikolina Vulic, events manager at the Museum of Broken Relationships. Sean Carberry, NPR News.

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