The Museum of Broken Relationships Needs Local Souvenirs of Sadness 

Bring out your heartbreak

"He gave me his cell phone so I couldn’t call him any more."

Photo courtesy of the Museum of Broken Relationships

"He gave me his cell phone so I couldn’t call him any more."

It was in a moment of bittersweet serendipity that local screenwriter and author Samantha Silva saw Broken Relationships, an exhibition from The Museum of Broken Relationships exhibit in London in 2011. She was "in the throes" of ending a 23-year relationship.

"It was difficult and painful and lots of people got hurt," Silva said. "But it's a universal experience, and that's what [Broken Relationships] is all about. We're all constructing narratives ... about our relationships but when relationships end, we construct a different narrative ... we can look back on it and see seeds of how it grew and its demise."

The "seeds," though metaphorical, are often manifested in souvenirs of lost love, like those that fill The Museum of Broken Relationships, based in Zagreb, Croatia. Silva was so moved by the Broken Relationships exhibition, she helped organize its February 2016 visit to Boise, including securing a $5,000 grant from the Boise City Department of Arts and History.

After their own relationship failed, founders Olinka Vistica and Drazen Grubisic created the museum, hoping to "offer a chance to overcome an emotional collapse through creation by contributing" a memento. Like the people who contribute them, each piece in the museum has a story: One item is an old Nokia. "He gave me his cellphone so I couldn't call him any more," reads the description.

When Broken Relationships opens at Ming Studios on First Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016, it will include selections from the permanent collection—but those will make up only half of the display. The other 50 percent of the exhibition will be comprised of mementos donated locally, and those will become part of the museum's permanent collection. Contributing to the Boise exhibit and collection is easy and anonymous: Fill out the submission form at, including the story of the item you want to donate. If your story is chosen, you'll receive an email with instructions on when and where to take your memento. Submissions open Tuesday, Dec. 1 and will be open for about a month.

Silva said it's important to have submissions from a wide range of people, so is working to get the word out to refugee, senior, veteran, LGBT populations and more.

From "Although often colored by personal experience, local culture and history, the exhibits presented here form universal patterns offering us to discover them and feel the comfort they can bring."

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