Love and loss at failed re­la­tion­ships mu­seum

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS in Los An­ge­les

Af­ter her hus­band asked for a di­vorce, Am­ber Clisura gave back her en­gage­ment ring, kicked him out of the house and tossed ev­ery­thing that re­minded her of the ru­ined mar­riage. Ex­cept for one item: a pol­ished steel bar­be­cue smoker that her fu­ture ex-hus­band had fash­ioned for her from an old oil drum.

“It sat there on the pa­tio and rusted and rusted, and it be­came a sad sym­bol of the re­la­tion­ship,” Clisura said.

The four-legged smoker had been a trea­sured hand­made gift, but even­tu­ally Clisura couldn’t bear to look at it. She con­sid­ered giv­ing it to a neigh­bor or sell­ing it for scrap but then read about a call for sub­mis­sions at the new Los An­ge­les branch of the Mu­seum of Bro­ken Re­la­tion­ships.

The orig­i­nal mu­seum opened in Za­greb, Croa­tia, in 2010 af­ter grow­ing out of a tour­ing col­lec­tion that criss­crossed Europe, Asia and the United States. On dis­play in Za­greb are ar­ti­facts from failed unions, most of them mun­dane un­der or­di­nary cir­cum­stances. A sin­gle stiletto heel. A wine opener. A worn old Snoopy doll.

But when iso­lated in a glass case or hang­ing on a white wall and ac­com­pa­nied by a cap­tion, the ob­jects be­come im­bued with heartache or re­gret. Or free­dom.

In Los An­ge­les, there’s a blue chif­fon top a woman wore to a cafe where her hus­band told her he was leav­ing. An en­ve­lope of leaves mailed from Canada to San Diego so a long-dis­tance paramour could ex­pe­ri­ence chang­ing sea­sons in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia.

One of the mu­seum’s most talked about items is a pair of breast im­plants do­nated by an ac­tress, who had them re­moved af­ter end­ing a toxic re­la­tion­ship with a man who made dis­parag­ing com­ments about her body.

More than 2,000 items com­prise the mu­seum’s two brickand-mor­tar col­lec­tions and tour­ing shows, which have made stops in San Fran­cisco, Helsinki, Fin­land and Ham­burg, Ger­many. A show in Seoul, South Korea, fea­tured a do­nated Jeep that had to be taken apart and brought in by crane. Do­na­tions ar­rive so reg­u­larly that the LA site hopes to con­tin­u­ally cy­cle in new items to keep the ex­hibit fresh.

Clisura ad­mit­ted she hadn’t yet been to the mu­seum to see the old rusted smoker.

“I wasn’t sure I was ready,” she said. But she’s since changed her mind and is plan­ning a trip with her new boyfriend.


Am­ber Clisura sits next to the bar­be­cue smoker she do­nated to the new Mu­seum of Bro­ken Re­la­tion­ships in Los An­ge­les.

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