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They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. How much worth would then be found in a collection of 400,000 hauntingly beautiful photographs of Albanian life spanning the period of 1850 until today?
The Marubi National Photography Museum, now conveniently located along the main promenade of the city of Shkodër, holds this large collection of negatives mounted on glass plates, impeccably organized and classified according to content and year taken. This museum holds the first-ever photograph of Albania, taken in 1858! The two-story building hosts the studio of the famous photographer, the one who started it all, Pietro (Pjetër) Marubi. When Pietro Marubi, an Italian political exile, opened this studio in Shkodër he most likely did not predict its successful 150-year history or the institution’s influence on Albanian photography, medicine, and architecture, as well as the arts and culture, in general. After his death, his Albanian student inherited the business who, in turn, left it to his children, creating thusly the famous Marubi dynasty and the greatest photographic tradition in the country.
Pietro Marubi dedicated his 40-year career to thousands of photographs of significant events as well as Albanian daily life. Many of them are portraits of Albanian citizens as well as significant figures, such as Edith Durham. But, there are even some images of courtesans of the time, whose photos represent the first nudes in Albania, making this collection especially avant-garde! Indeed, people were the main subject of Marubi’s photography which makes his work especially fascinating to behold. Marubi’s contribution to medicine is well-known, as he was the first to take photographs of numerous symptoms of diseases which were fairly unknown at the time. The museum also exhibits the city plans, natural landscapes, traditional houses as well as thousands of portraits of soldiers and commanders of the first and second world wars.
To fully take in and appreciate the most extensive and beautiful photographic collection in Albania, plan to devote a large portion of your day to this visit!