“Crafting Access” in Gjirokastra

From 17 to 23 October 2016 in the Albanian world heritage town Gjirokastra 15 heritage professionals gathered  for a very special training. A group of crafts persons and museum curators from Albania and Greece met at the cross-border practical training titled “Crafting Access: Creative Techniques for Increasing Museum Access”.

The training tackled important topics related to accessibility of museums and other cultural institutions to all community members.

During the training, a member of the Balkan Museum Access Group Etleva Demollari, alongside with Dr. Diana Walters, Dr. Esther Solomon, Panagiotis Giotis and others lecturers delivered presentations about different approaches to learning and increasing museum access.

Presentations were focused on how museums function as educational and social institutions, and how to use the universal design and the social model approach to improve museum access based on the handcrafts skills of the present crafts persons knowledge. Also, participants learned about reducing barriers to access in museums and heritage.

During the training all participants were involved in the practical work in designing and developing interpretation material, including educational toolkit titled “Museum in a Suitcase”. This tool will enable larger accessibility to museums focusing on sensory and tactile, accessible exhibitions. Some of the produced objects are planned to be included in the future “Balkan Heritage Museum in a Suitcase”. During the process, consultations with disabled persons from Gjirokastra were conducted to ensure that “Museum in a Suitcase” suits their needs.

Lastly, an important part of the training was the visit to the Ethnographic Museum in Gjirokastra and the Bazar in Gjirokastra where the participants were inspired with their rich tangible and intangible heritage.

“Crafting Access: Creative Techniques for Increasing Museum Access” course was organized by the Foundation Cultural Heritage without Borders (CHwB) Albania and the Foundation Cultural Heritage without Borders (CHwB) Bosnia and Herzegovina together with the Balkan Museum Network.

Since 2006, Balkan Museum Network along with CHwB BiH has been implementing and supporting different projects focused on increasing accessibility of the museums in the Balkans for Deaf and disabled people.

This training is part of the three year project “Crafting Access – capacity building for heritage and craft-based inclusion across the western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Montenegro, Kosovo & Greece – plus inclusion of other neighbouring states)” funded by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.

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