Embracing Cupid’s Sting
Breaking up, as the song goes, is so very hard to do. Especially when taking stock of the many objects that can accumulate over the course of a relationship. Objects small, large, disposable, handmade, commonplace, exotic, and, often, to those outside of the bond, incomprehensible in terms of value and sentiment. What to do with the shared totem of love when, by the very nature of subtraction, it changes in meaning?
A number of the broken-hearted have found safe refuge for those wayward objects of relationships past at the Museum of Broken Relationships in Los Angeles. On any given day, Hollywood Boulevard strollers can enter this 5,000-square-foot space and immerse themselves in a highly-curated gallery full of, well, other people’s discarded stuff. Some 350 objects, ranging from a dino-saur piñata to a rusted meat smoker to a wedding dress in a jar, fill out the catalog.
For curator Alexis Hyde, using an art gallery setting to display these objects imbues them with the weight they deserve. “But this isn’t the Whitney or The Met,” she said. “You don’t need a PhD in art history to know what we’re talking about. Everyone knows about broken relationships.”
The museum requires object donors (who remain anonymous) to include some basic context—the when, where, and why of it. They run the gamut from a paragraph’s worth of context to mystifying communiqués. “No wonder we were hidden,” reads the description for an assortment of brassieres, a rainbow of spandex and silk hanging from one of the gallery’s walls.
A relatively new fixture on the Hollywood landscape, the museum opened last year as the American outpost for the original Museum of Broken Relationships, in Croatia. This month it celebrates its first Valentine’s Day. Hyde suggests it as the perfect place to forge a new relationship—and why not on Valentine’s Day. “People tell me about meeting their significant others here all the time,” said Hyde, who isn’t surprised by romance sprouting in such emotionally heavy terrain. “You’re both really affected by what you see here. You can’t help but talk about it, and that conversation about the past becomes coffee, becomes dinner.”
Photographs courtesy of the Museum of Broken Relationships