The ethnographic museums

Albania counts several ethnographic museums, but of the original 10 only a few are left. Once there was the idea of creating an open-air ethnographic museum, but this was never established. From the museums left the ones from Kruja, Berat, Elbasan and Gjirokastër are preserved, while others are completely destroyed, or being under restoration. The museum in Lezha has been closed down, while the one in Vlora has been restored recently.

Apart from these some local museums, like the one in Ersekë, have a small ethnographic department as part of a more general regional museum. Local museums in Bajram Curri and Fier seem to have been plundered and destroyed in the 1992 and 1997 uprisings.

The ethnographic museum of Shkodra for example does no longer exist. After the communist period all of the houses and land was returned to the original owners which forced the Shkodra municipality to evacuate all the objects from the museum and store it away. Once counting 7 museums, the only museum left was the house of Osa Kuka, a wealthy merchant, which is the historical museum with a small exhibition on archaeological finds in the ground floor, while most rooms are used as offices for the museum director and personnel, including a large library. Build in 1815 it has been restored to its original state. The historical museum was founded in 1949.

Another example is the would be Ethnographic Museum of Dukagjini, situated in a traditional house, build on a large rock in Thethi valley. The house is empty and in bad shape and the floors are not save to walk upon.

Admission and opening hours

Admission is a few hundred leks and differs from place to place.

Although opening hours are fixed and shown on signs, the museums may be found closed during the official opening hours and times may change from year to year. Yet it is often possible to visit the museums, even on the days they are officially closed. Travelling with a travel agency it is wise to ask the travel agency to contact the museum before, making an arrangement for the visit on a certain day and time. If by coincidence the museum is closed upon arrival, ask the people around if someone could call and ask the person in charge to bring the key and open. The museum in Kruja has a doorbell at the entrance to use in case the gate is closed.

In general all museums are closed on Monday.

Apart from some exceptions the people guarding the museum do not speak English, French, German or any other language. In that case it is wise to have a guide with you who is able to translate or make arrangements for an official guide who speaks your language to get the most from your visit.

In most of the museums it is not allowed to take pictures or video recording. Officially that is. Usually the museums allow you to take pictures or video recording, but make sure by asking if you are allowed to, to avoid any trouble. 

Written by: Cees Hillebrand. Last updated: 2012-03-18

Other museums

16 pictures, last added on 16 March 2012

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