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Museum is shrine for losers in love

A museum dedicated to enshrining the heartbreak of failed romances is bracing itself for a surge in visitors on Valentine's Day.

For some reason the Museum of Broken Relationships in the Croatian capital of Zagreb proves a magnet on the day that lovers around the world celebrate. It is crammed with everyday objects, each with written testimonies telling tales of passion, romance and heartbreak.

"The objects that are here represent all the stages of a break-up ... and how people go through love," said Drazen Grubisic, a designer and artist who co-founded the museum in 2010. "We might say it's a love museum, just upside down," he said.

The mementoes - collected from all over the world - are random and varied, ranging from fake rubber breasts to a cast from a broken leg. There is garden gnome hurled in fury at a car during a stormy break-up a teddy bear that was once a Valentine's Day present; a wedding dress from a marriage gone awry and an axe that smashed through household furniture.

Each item comes with dates and locations of the relationships, and notes by their anonymous donors. Some are funny. The note next to a garter belt says: "I never put them on. The relationship might have lasted longer if I had."

Some are bitter. The garden gnome flew over a car driven by a husband who turned "arrogant and heartless." It bounced on the asphalt, shattering its face. "It was a long loop, drawing an arc of time ... that defined the end of love," the note from Slovenia said.

An axe from Berlin was used by a woman to smash every piece of furniture her girlfriend had left behind."The more the room filled with chopped furniture, (the more) I felt better."

The museum, just across from Zagreb's City Hall where couples get married, currently displays some 100 "relics" out of about 1,000 that have been collected from around the world. Parts of the collection have travelled as far as Manila, London and Singapore to be put on display. In each city, the heartbroken can donate their stuff to the Zagreb museum.

The museum itself is the brainchild of a break-up. When Grubisic and co-founder Olinka Vistica, a filmmaker, split up, they got stuck when it came to dividing their sentimental memorabilia. They did not want to just get rid of it, so they created a museum.

"Maybe sometime in your life you will want to remember some of the good parts of the relationship," Grubisic said. He said that donors of mementoes find the giving therapeutic. "They can move on," he said. "They also show there's something universal: We all have been broken-hearted at least once."

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