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At the end of a relationship, both parties are left with a certain amount of emotional and physical baggage, and it’s often difficult to know what to do with the latter. The Museum of Broken Relationships aims to relieve the heartbroken of that dilemma, by allowing the public to donate their souvenirs of lost love and “overcome emotional collapse through creation”.
The award-winning Museum of Broken Relationships has travelled all over the world, and also has a permanent home in Zagreb, Croatia. The travelling exhibition has now arrived in London. For a nosy person like me, the opportunity to get a glimpse into other people’s relationships was too good to miss, so I went along last night.
The exhibition takes place in two venues in Seven Dials. Most of the objects on display aren’t particularly interesting themselves – we’ve all seen SIM cards, cuddly toys and shoes before – but the stories that accompany them and the reason for their significance are.
The objects become a metaphor for the whole relationship – a piano given as an extravagant gift during a short and passionate affair, a second-hand frisbee given as a birthday present by a less-than-enthusiastic boyfriend, and a bike used on long rides to get away from a deteriorating relationship.
I liked the layout of the exhibition. The first venue, at the Tristan Bates Theatre used low lighting, music and paper cuttings interspersed with the objects to create a poignant atmosphere. You could even leave your own messages and feelings about the exhibition on a blackboard outside. The second venue, in Earlham Street, was harshly lit and I thought this matched the exhibits, which seemed to have more bitter stories attached to them.
Some people might find the subject matter depressing, but I left feeling quite uplifted. Some of the relationships had ended well, some badly, some people were clearly still very affected by what had happened. But all of them had taken a positive step to put the past behind them and you could almost feel their sigh of relief at finally getting rid of something that had been bothering them for a long time.
The Museum of Broken Relationships, until 4 September 2011, Tristan Bates Theatre, entry £3.50