There is a problem I often find with museums: size. They are either too big and overwhelming, making it impossible to see everything in one trip. Let alone actually take in the experience of what you have seen. Or they are too small or simply provide art from one particular niche.
When visiting the Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art I managed to find the perfect sized art museum! Not only was it neither too big nor too small, but it also provided such a wide variety of art.
While I was visiting Tirana I managed to spend a few hours at the National Gallery of Art. I am a frequent art museum and gallery visitor and what I found at this particular museum landed it in my top favorite art museums of all time.
What was it about this particular museum that made it so special? Its female visibility. Living in New York I have noticed that one of the biggest issues with art museums is their lack of feminism. This issue is in both the percentage of female artist’s work they carry and in exhibiting art that displays women in a modern way. This is such an issue that there are separate art museums and galleries established in order to give woman the visibility that they deserve.
I was not faced with this particular problem when entering Albania’s National Gallery. Instead, I found examples of artwork that portrayed woman in non-traditional and strong roles. This is perhaps due to the isolated communism the country faced. One good thing about communism? It requires everyone to be equal – this includes the women.
There was also a traveling exhbit while I visted displaying the artwork of Sofia Papadhimitri: a woman who clearly knew how to capture the bodies of people.
This museum was quite the refreshing change from the usual artwork that I see. A change that has welcomed itself into my heart to stay for a long time to come.
Hands down, one of the top things you need to do while visiting Kosovo, or anywhere in the Balkans, is to go see The Albanian League of Prizren.
The League of Prizren was organized in January 5, 1877 as a defense of the Albanian territories and their human rights. The political organization was a response to western and ottoman influences. The western world, such as Berlin, attempted to give away Albanian land to neighboring countries as a way to decrease the influence of the Ottomans in Europe. The League was a way to demonstrate that the Albanian identity as a distinct entity from the Ottomans.
When visiting, there are four aspects of the League you must see. First, there is the outside: the architecture and gardens. The architecture has been rebuilt and restored to exactly match the original. After that, you can visit the three museums. The first consists of art work from many different Albanian artists. This was my favorite part of the museum – the artwork all relates to the League of Prizren and there were quite a few pieces I enjoyed viewing.
The second part of the museum is ethnographic and exhibits many rooms in traditional Albanian decor. There are also many old traditional items and clothing on display. I, unfortunately, only managed to get one photo.
And finally, the third and most interesting installment displays the old books and documents of the members of the League of Prizren. This aspect is less cultural and more political. There are photos of the original party members. And documents they wrote back and forth to other nations indicating their statehood and rights.
And finally, after you are done visiting the League of Prizren, I recommend you enter one of the MANY cafés right outside and have yourself some refreshing ice cream!