Elsa Ballauri, an Albanian activist and journalist, has created a museum in Tirana with collected objects designed to show Albanian women at different periods of time throughout history.
Ballauri says her aim is to show Albanian women’s lives in history and find out what has not been said. She has collected the objects throughout her life; her father has also been a collector. Some of the objects, especially those from after World War II, belonged to her family.
Ballauri won the “Women’s Torch” prize from the Danish government in 2009, which is when she decided to embark on this initiative.
The museum called “Muzeu i Grave (Women’s Museum) was opened in 2021, it can be visited throughout the week from 10am to 5pm, except on Sundays.
“I am interested in finding out what relationship women had with their families, husbands, with life and with themselves,” Ballauri told BIRN. “Even a single object shows a part of history,” she added.
Women’s jewelry from antiquity displayed in the “Women’s Museum”. Photo: BIRN
The collection starts with antiquity and the jewelry of women in the area of Zadrima, in Shkoder, in northern Albania.
Women’s jewelry and objects from antiquity displayed in the ‘Women’s Museum’. Photo: BIRN
“The Catholic part of the north hosted a population that was isolated due to not converting to Islam, and this made them preserve traditions a lot. Zadrimore women were also more liberal than in the rest of the north,” she remarks.
It continues with the period before World War II, before communism, where the first school for women was opened.
Women’s jewelry and objects from before World War II displayed in the “Women’s Museum” Photo: BIRN
“At that time, women’s organisations were very active and interesting, in the years 1920 to 1930. King Zog’s sisters supported women’s organisations. The topics they discussed were very interesting, how women should work, they talked about divorce, they talked about abortion, they talked about cleanliness,” Ballauri told BIRN.
“Albania was a very interesting place then and society was very active,” she added.
In the first row of the shelf are objects that were allowed during communism, in the second and third rwws tare objects that were used before communis times. Photo: BIRN
She also has collected object that define women during the communist era, including some that were prohibited, like the piano, and has collected photos of women who suffered under the communist dictatorship.
“Enemy objects”, displayed at the ‘Women’s Museum’. During communism they were not allowed for use. Photo: BIRN
“In communism, what happened to the whole of society happened to women, too, but the women suffered more because a woman was supposed to be a political being of the party and a militant, at the same time she had responsibility for the family. Communism did not free women to make them equal with men. Equality was only a word, in the slogans, so women suffered twice,” Ballauri told BIRN
“Women were persecuted, interned and shot, some of which was because of their ideas, but a large part of it was because of their family and husbands,” she added.
Photos of women persecuted and killed during communist times. Photo: BIRN
Source: Balkan Insight