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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 October 2007, 00:45 GMT 01:45 UK
Balkan heartbreak a hit in Berlin
Wedding dress (photo courtesy of Zvonimir Dobrovic)
One woman donated her wedding dress to the exhibition
A travelling exhibition devoted to the theme of failed relationships is proving a hit in Berlin.

The Museum of Broken Relationships asks people in the cities it visits to donate mementos of everything from short flings to painful divorces.

Originating in Croatia, the show has visited Bosnia-Herzegovina and Slovenia and has amassed more than 300 exhibits.

Berliners have donated more than 30 objects, including a wedding dress and an axe used to break an ex's furniture.

Zvonimir Dobrovic is organising the Berlin show in the Tacheles arts centre, a former squat in the heart of the city.

"It's such a nice, simple idea, because everyone can relate to it," he told the BBC News website.

Bike (photo courtesy of Zvonimir Dobrovic)
I left on a scorching summer's day - I thought going on foot or taking a tram would be incredibly stupid - so I got on the bike

"It's not pretentious, it's interactive, a place where people can present their own stories and compare them to others."

Members of the public are asked to give or donate an object, along with a short description of what it means to them, the time of the relationship, and where they are from.

"Even if the objects seem ordinary the stories are very individual and they make the exhibition come alive," Mr Dobrovic said.

"People really enjoy being here, we get couples who spend a long time here, looking and laughing and hoping it never happens to them, and then people who've just broken up who want to tell us their stories," he added.

Cathartic effect

The idea was born when two Zagreb artists, Olinka Vistica and Drazen Grubisic, split up and wanted to do something creative with the pain they were feeling.

"The exhibition comes from a sincere, universal experience and helped us in our break-up process", Ms Vistica told the BBC News website.

Handcuffs (photo courtesy of Zvonimir Dobrovic)
Some of the objects donated are ordinary, some more unusual

The artists decided to collect the objects left over from their relationship and put them on display and asked their friends to do the same.

Ms Vistica says the exhibition can have a therapeutic effect.

"The normal impulse is to destroy the mementos of a relationship in order to recover, but we thought of using creativity to overcome the pain of the experience and also remember the joy those objects once held for us," she said.

The cathartic effect is evident in some of the descriptions accompanying the objects.

One woman donated an axe and described chopping up the furniture of her cheating female lover.

"The more her room filled up with chopped up furniture, the more I started to feel better. Two weeks after she was kicked out she came to take the furniture. It was neatly arranged into small heaps and fragments of wood."

After Berlin the exhibition travels to Belgrade, Skopje and Stockholm and there are plans for possible shows in Tokyo, New York and Sao Paulo.

We asked if you would consider donating anything to such an exhibition. Your comments:

Yes, I lost 4yrs in the process of getting out from it. The first thing i did was I went to her place and gave back everything associated to her but i would have donated if i would have had got a chance. It is something you want to express so much but no way out.
Jatin, Mumbai, India

A black and white lacy corset from Valentines Day 2 years ago, the only vestige left from my last relationship, everything else I torched already.
natalie... , arizona

Having gone through four or so relationships, there are most definitely "mementos" from each that I would consider donating. Some items would be a testament to the positive discourse two humans have on a short walk through life together, while others would be a trophy awarded for having survived a miserable journey. One such item of the later would be a scrap book commemorating a vacation given by a former girlfriend. When the relationship ended miserably, I removed all photographs including said ex and threw them in the trash.
Dan... Iowa, USA

This may sound strange but breaking up with my previous ex was the best thing that ever happened to me. She was an abusive person due to the fact she came from an abusive family. S was physically and sexually abused since young and this affected her emotional stability. When we broke up, I gave away almost everything of hers and whatever she gave me. It was a spiritual cleansing. If I still have those stuff, I would send them to the museum with a long report of my story.
Richard L, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I once donated an ex boyfriend's pillow to an animal shelter to be used as a doggy bed. I would agree that donating romantic momentos is a very cathartic experience. :)
Lyn, Tucson, AZ

The idea of having this museum is amazing. Can I denote myself to the museum with the name branded as "dumped by the one she loves most"?
Yau, Hong Kong

Actually, I would like to take a few things back from my ex. The weepy songs I recorded just for him, the countless empty hours I spent trying to be entertained by his sarcastic discontent. My liver! (Some parts just don't regenerate.) My best pillow talk, my concentration, my faith in love...
Anna, Philadelphia, USA

I read this article and seriously considered going to Germany just to see the exhibit. There are so many things I would love to donate... I just wish I could donate the feelings too. Now, if someone could figure out how to do that - how much better my life would be!
Sue C, London, UK

I can understand the idea behind it the exhibit and apppreciate it, but when I look into my own history I find that I have already abandoned just about everything related to the people in question and that the few things I have kept remind me of the good times, in a bittersweet kind of way. I wouldn't give them up.
Alex, Sydney, Australia

I have already purged everything from my divorce and as I am now in an incrediably happy relationship with my partner (now wife) of the last 7 years, the old relationship is of little interest to me. However, had this been around when my wife decided to leave me for a balding ner-do-well, I would have happily donated her and all her baggage to the exhibition!
Peter, Hong Kong

had it been two years back i.e. right after the break-up my 7 years relationship (includes 5 years marriage), i would have donated all i had. for the past two years i have been getting rid of things that associates him or his memory and still could not get rid of all..
sadia, london, uk

What could I donate? 1. the picture CD he burned for me of one of our trip that I never even opened. I just threw it away. He had given it to me after it was over. I put it in the trash can, then thought about recovering it because maybe there were photos that I wanted, not of us but of the places we visited. Then I thought oh why bother. I remember precisely that I wanted to own the images of our trip and did not want his images of them. That trip abroad was fraud to me as he went under the pretense we were still together. In his mind, he was already gone. I guess I can't donate this item though since it's probably somewhere in the city's landfill but... 2. The rock music on my computer which started because he was introducing me to American music. He's a rock music lover and going to concerts was one of the big things for him (and thus I went along). I had previously only listened to world music and classical. I still rarely listen to the rock stuff. How does one donate MP3 Rock music? I think the music was the most pervasive introduction to American popular culture I've ever had. I enjoyed it. 3. Then there was the Panda Bear that sat on top of my bookshelf for a long time after the breakup. I remember the first time he gave it to me, it was sitting on his bed. He wanted to apologise for something he did and that was the way he did it. After the breakup, I had no idea what to do with the bear so it sat on top of my office bookshelf for over 7 years. Then, I met a new friend who was having tremendous pain in school and so I thought she could enjoy the comfort of a fluffy bear. She has it now.
Cornelia, USA

My ex left a gas powered leaf blower in the garage when he moved out, plus a gallon of gasoline. I suppose I can't transport the gasoline to the exhibit, and it would be fabulous to offload that unused unwanted machinery.
Janine... Ohio, United States

The exhibit sounds somewhat interesting, but I disagree with the sentiment that this is universal, or something everyone can relate to. I have never been through a breakup of any sort, really, certainly nothing like what is portrayed here. I was married at the age of 22 and am still married to the same wife, having just turned 40. The exhibit might amuse me if I saw it, but it wouldn't really resonate with me.
John, Surabaya, Indonesia

This is therapeutic! I have lots to get rid up. It just sits in a box in the basement anyway.
emiy, Cleveland, U.S.

This is the 32nd anniversary of my divorce, a divorce made in heaven if ever there was one. For years I was a good sport, staying in touch, getting along. It would have been much saner to just fill a warehouse with the debris from the marriage and then set it on fire. I wish I'd known about this exhibition back then...
[BBC News website reader], Ottawa, Canada

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