Marubi National Museum of Photography in Shkodër, Albania Building, Architecture Design, Architect
Marubi National Museum of Photography in Shkodër
New Building in Albania – design by casanova+hernandez architecten
page updated 2 Jan 2017 with new photos ; 17 Jul 2016
Marubi National Museum of Photography in Shkodër, Albania
Location: Shkodra (Scutari), Albania
Shortlisted for Mies van der Rohe 2017 Awards
Design: casanova+hernandez architecten
Marubi National Museum of Photography Building
Photographs below by Christian Richters
The new building and its museographic project open a new generation of contemporary museums in Albania, which not only aims to restore and protect the Albanian cultural heritage, but also to work as an attraction pole for local and foreign visitors alike in order to spread locally and internationally the richness of the Albanian Culture.
The new museum hosts the Marubi’s dynasty legacy that includes negatives, historical pictures and photographic objects and cameras belonging to three generations of photographers (from 1856 till 1952), as well as half million negatives from other Albanese photographers such as Shan Pici, Dedë Jakova o Pjetër Raboshta.
The museographic project has been developed by Casanova+Hernandez architects in close collaboration with the Dutch curator from the Fotomuseum Amsterdam (FOAM), Kim Knoppers, who has also curated the first temporary exhibition at the museum focused on the women photographed by the Marubi family.
In 2013, the Albanian Ministry of Culture envisioned a plan to improve the national cultural infrastructure, paying special attention to the renovation of existing historical buildings, reusing them with a new cultural program. One of the first projects included in this program is the Marubi National Museum of Photography, which is specially important due to its pioneer character. The plan to create the museum has enjoyed an enormous national repercussion because of the historical importance of exhibiting the photographic legacy created during more than one century by three generations of photographers from the Marubi family. But also, because preserving and disseminating Marubi’s work in a historical city as Shkodër acquires a strong symbolic significance that will help to promote the Albanian national identity, specially among new generations.
Dialogue between tradition and modernity
The selected design for the Marubi Museum developed by Casanova+Hernandez architects aims to promote a rich dialogue between tradition and modernity, between the past and the present. The legacy of the tradition is underlined by restoring the historical building designed by the famous Albanian painter, sculptor, photographer and architect born in Shkodër, Kolë Idromeno, while preserving its spatial and structural qualities without any volume transformation or new interior partitions. Conceptually, Idromeno’s building becomes an important “object” of the exhibition to be shown, contemplated and visited.
A modern image associated to the new museographic program is achieved by installing five “functional boxes”, which are prefabricated and detached from the original building, working as pieces of furniture or sculptural elements. Tradition and modernity establish a dialogue in every corner of the building. At the exterior of the museum, a showcase element works as a landmark that indicates the museum entrance; in the interior of the building, the original windows and the original spatial qualities of the building dialogue with the exhibition boxes; and in the courtyard, the old building coexists with a new modern and sculptural back facade.
Open, accessible and alive cultural landmark
On the one hand, the museum program expands into the public space and one of the “functional boxes” becomes a showcase installed in front of the museum, serving as a landmark that invites citizens to visit it. On the other hand, public space enters the museum and the project erases the border between street and institution with a transparent and accessible ground floor that hosts a free-entrance multifunctional space for lectures, workshops and temporary exhibitions. As a result, the project intends to create an open and alive museum capable of becoming a cultural landmark linked to the street life of Shkodër.
Interactive Chrono-Thematic exhibition:
information and education combined into a multisensory experience
The exterior side of the functional boxes located on the first floor of the museum presents a chronological exhibition, which is intertwined with the thematic exhibition exhibited inside them. The chronological exhibition shows the life and achievements of the Marubi’s dynasty with texts, historical pictures, videos and objects organized around the biography of the three members of the Marubi’s dynasty. This information is put into context together with the history and culture of Albania and the city of Shkodër, thus acquiring an important didactic dimension.
The thematic exhibition complements the chronological exhibition by stimulating a multisensory experience that makes the visitor interact with the space and with the devices of the three thematic rooms. These rooms show three phases of the traditional photographic process presented inside the ideal reconstruction of the historical spaces where this process took place: the photo-studio of Pjëter Marubi “Driteshkronja”, the darkroom of Kel Marubi and the Gegë Marubi’s archive.
The modern image of the museum is based on an abstract pattern, which is inspired by the geometry of the aperture of the photographic camera that opens and closes to control the light. This abstract pattern is used to design the structural layout of the five exhibition boxes installed in the building, while at the same time integrates a complete and versatile exhibition system that includes frames to exhibit photos and documents, showcases for objects and video screens for slide-shows and short movies.
The abstract pattern, which is always mixed with the photos and objects of the collection, becomes the symbol of the museum. It can be recognized at different scales and in several parts of the building such as in the logo of the museum, in the design of the street showcase, in the layout of the functional boxes inside the building, and even in the structure of the new artistic back facade that frames the views over the surroundings and filters the light within the building. Marubi National Museum of Photography acquires its own specific identity by linking all spatial, structural, functional, graphic and visual aspects, helping visitors to identify building and collection with a complete, rich and unique experience.
Photos below by Blerta Kambo:
Muzeu Kombëtar i Fotografisë “Marubi” – Building Information
Marubi National Museum of Photography
Shkodër, Albania. 2014-16
Client: Albanian Ministry of Culture,
Albanian Development Fund and
Albanian-American Development Foundation
Programme: Restoration of protected monument;
extension of existing building;
Albanian National Museum of Photography
and National Photography archive;
museographic project and landscape design
Advice photo curator: Kim Knoppers
Historian: Zef Paci
Local Architect: Atelier 4
Structural Engineer: Diana Lluka
Mechanical Engineer: Spiro Drita
Electrical Engineer: Dëshire Mena
Total area: 517 m2
Usable floor area: 1138 m2
Cost: 878 €/m2
Photos below by Jesus Hernandez:
Restricted competition: First prize
Current state: Completed
Marubi National Museum of Photography images / information from casanova+hernandez architecten
Website: casanova+hernandez architecten
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Marubi National Museum of Photography in Shkodër Building : page