Women’s Museum in Albania
MiG (Muzeu i Grave)
Every museum has a lot of emotion inside, but when you build it from the ground up, it brings a lot more than just that – it brings lots, and lots of love.
The museum I built from the ground up, is the museum of the Albanian woman, but it could very well be called My Museum. In fact, everything in there is connected to me. With my collection, my objects that I have been keeping and selecting myself, with my memories, my ideas and vision of curating this museum and conceptualising this space. But, when it was done, I did not see what I once did at the very beginning. Suddenly, what I saw was not only Me. Every piece of object, document, and photo, did not belong to me anymore, belonged to Us.
The Women’s Museum in Albania was an idea on which I swore by 10 years ago, after Danish Government gave me the Women Torch award. An honorary award, given to one woman in each country of the world. It required a commitment, and I went for the most difficult one: a museum for the Albanian woman, her history, her daily life, her emancipation efforts, her merits, and her suffering.
The Albanian woman who lived in all ages hidden, unknown, pious, active, beautiful, wise, submissive, isolated, artist, strong, enigmatic. A good part of her life is still locked in archives. The Women’s Museum seeks to open those boxes and tell her stories.
I was not alone, I found friends that together we can deal with the museum, not only as a hobby, but also as a task, as a responsibility.
The museum is set in a private apartment, in a very central neighbourhood of the capital, Tirana. In about 100 m2, you can go around to find objects, documents, installations that chronologically tell the story of women in Albania. My personal collection is on display, and every object found in the museum is authentic. The chapters of the museum start with the times of Antiquity, continuing with the late Middle Ages, Renaissance, Independence, the 20s and 30s, WWII, followed by the Period of Dictatorship 1945 – 1990, etc.
The MiG’s mission is not only the recognition of the life of women in Albania, but also providing education and information focusing on children and youth, with interactive and compatible teaching techniques. The museum will also publish and promote active women and girls, organize periodical expos, moderate debates, and produce documentaries on the Albanian woman in all her spectrum.
Yes, the museum has now come out of me and has become of all women and public.
By Elsa Ballauri
writer, journalist, collector, and human rights activist.