Culture, Travel & Sport

The Croatian museum making light of hangovers

It’s Friday or Saturday evening and you choose to go out with your friends. Then, the next morning, you wake up feeling terrible. You might not even remember a single thing that happened the night before.

We’ve all done it, some more than others.

In Croatia, you can now experience such thrills – if that’s the right word – without drinking a single pint of anything alcoholic. Opened last December, the Museum of Hangovers is the latest addition to Zagreb’s increasingly bizarre collection of niche museums, a place where you can relive alcohol-fueled happenings and the not-so-pleasant experience that follows.

The museum was founded by Rino Dubokovic, a university student living in Zagreb, who came up with the idea after a night out in the Croatian capital. Speaking to CBS News, he recalled a story one of his friends had told him of how he woke up with a bicycle pedal in his pocket.

“I thought, as I listened to him, ‘why not set up a place, a museum, with a collection of these objects and stories that will illustrate in a funny way these evenings of drunkenness and the hangover the next day,” he says.

The recently-opened museum aims to recreate the tipsy or rather drunken journey one has to overcome after leaving for home from a bar. The tour includes rooms designed to mimic streets, a maze of storefronts, a garden and the long-awaited destination: the bedroom.

Using ‘beer goggles’ that simulate the state of being drunk, visitors to the museum can attempt to take a not-so-simple walk or try to throw darts. The entrance fee of those hitting a bullseye will be refunded.

There are also exhibitions of odd objects that people discovered in their possession after a night out, as well as a chalkboard where every visitor can add their own experience to the museum and complete the following sentence: “I woke up with (…).”

So far, examples have included: “two stray dogs” and “a lot of pumpkins.”

The museum is also looking for inspiration from its audience. On its website, it invites people to submit their own stories – completely anonymously, of course.

The gift shop even sells a board game called Drunkopoly.

While the museum was created as a place where the aim is to have fun, it has been criticised by some for taking too light-hearted an approach to alcohol abuse, a problem affecting millions around the world.

“It’s fine to drink in moderation, but that’s not what this museum is about,” wrote CBS, quoting US-based psychiatrist Gail Saltz. “It makes it look appealing, it makes it look like it’s fun and hilarious and for young people especially, that’s going to be a big draw.”

Nonetheless, as Mr Dubokovic explains, he never wanted the museum to be place where overindulgence is glorified.

“In the future, we want to make people aware of the bad things related to alcohol,” he told CNN, adding that the museum is rather a physical representation of the kinds of discussions he had with his friends where everyone can share stories and think of their common past.

The Museum of Hangovers is not the first unorthodox cultural site in Zagreb. In 2010, the Museum of Broken Relationships was opened where displays tell the painful stories of couples splitting up. Despite being highly unusual at the time, the museum’s collection, which includes abandoned (or stolen) objects such as a wedding dress or a toaster, gained much attention and became so successful that it inspired a similar exhibition in Los Angeles.