When the Museum of Broken Relationships started as a tongue-in-cheek temporary exhibition in 2010, much like its symbolic mementoes of failed relationships, it wasn't supposed to be a long-term thing. A touring exhibition propelled it into the cult-status territory, and the museum has since enjoyed a permanent home in Zagreb and Los Angeles.
Now, the Museum plans to go beyond the physical, reflecting the shape-shifting reality of relationships in the digital age. The museum will begin archiving on-screen momentoes like unanswered text messages, break up emails and awful Tinder profiles.
Researchers from the Living Digital group at the University of Dundee have teamed up with The Museum of Broken Relationships for the study 'Digital Separations' aiming to better understand how we break up and remember our relationships through digital artefacts.
Daniel Herron and Professor Wendy Moncur are exploring what ‘digital souvenirs’ people keep after a breakup. The team have begun to collect the digital souvenirs as part of their research, which includes: ‘Not breakup text’, an unanswered text between high school sweethearts who were in a struggling long-distance relationship; ‘Email Title Said It All’, an emotional break-up email with the ominous subject line, ‘The End; and ‘Santo Antônio kept me alive’, a photograph of pet dog that helped heal the hurt after an abusive and emotional break-up.
The digital souvenirs collected by the Museum and the University will be added to the permanent collection.
Daniel, a PhD student at University, explained, 'So much of our lives, including significant parts of our relationships, are lived online now. People meet online, they share information through social media, make and share playlists, keep photos on their smartphones.'
'Much of this digital content persists after a breakup and needs to be dealt with in some way. Material generated as part of a romantic entanglement can linger online long after the actual relationship has ended. This material can give us significant insights into how people can treat breakups, remember relationships, and move on positively in a modern, digital world.'