What I actually did in Gjirokastra this fall

Deur tapijt

After having so many posts on my blog about doing fun stuff, it is maybe time to tell about my project in the beautiful city of Gjirokastra. I told about the first part back in february, but last september and october I started another project. Since I think the subjects of my project are very interesting, I like to tell something about it.

The project I did last fall was for me to write a collection policy plan (how to take care of the collections, which are the houses itself in this case) for two big Ottoman family houses in the city. There are a lot of the same kind of houses in the city, but these two are the main ones that have a museum function right now. There are some other houses that have a nice interior, but are lesser known and unfortunately one burnt down last month.

The thing that makes these houses special is the fact that they are not only beautifully decorated, but you can really see how Albanian families lived in these houses (if you get a tour, which is only possible in Skendulli House at the moment) in the past. The Ottoman influence is clearly visible in the whole division of the interior. Also an interesting fact is that the main tour is given by the owner himself, or his daughter. He actually lived in the house, so knows a lot about it and therefore it feels very personal. A thing you don’t experience often in museums anymore.

So, what does my collection plan contain?
In short, the main thing I looked at was the collection. In this case the interior of the house itself and the textile decorations. Important questions to ask were for example: What is the state of the house? Is restauration needed? What parts need it the most? What and how is being cleaned (it is not wise to use normal cleaning products) and how many times a year? Can visitors touch the collection or objects? Are there any fragile objects that need extra care? Are the textiles that are exposed traditional or new? And if traditional, is it wise to let visitors touch it or walk over it?
Because there are more tourists visiting the next years, it is good to question what parts of the interior need extra care. And is the house safe for all the tourists that are going to visit the house?

This is just in short how to manage a collection and how to make a plan for the future, but as you might guess these things can be very complex. Very interesting to figure it all out I think. Because it would be nice to keep these houses in a good state (or better) for future generations.

Because I already showed pictures of Skendulli House over here (and that being said I would like to mention that I would recommend Skendulli and Zekate House instead of the Etnographic museum. The houses are so much more authentic than the museum. Although the costume collection is worth seeing), I will mainly show pictures of Zekate house.

Zekate House








Skendulli House




While I was in Gjirokastra, I met some great girls who were working on a very interesting project in the Skendulli House regarding the wall paintings outside and inside the house. I asked one of them, Jenny, to write a bit about the project. So, probably next time I actually have a guest blogger. If this turns out to be popular, I was thinking of asking people more often to write something on my blog (I have some people in mind actually). So, stay tuned if you are interested!

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