The textile conservation training organized in Gjirokastra by CHwB Albania and Heritage Without Borders (HWB) has come to a successful end. The course, which was open to museum professionals and students from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Kosovo, Serbia and Montenegro, with a passion for preservation of historic textile collections, was funded by the Headly Trust and took place on 8-17th June.
Throughout the ten days of this training, participants worked on site at the Ethnographic Museum of Gjirokastra, while professional textile conservators guided them in learning more about textile conservation through the application of practical work on artifacts, discussions, and short lectures. The team responsible for the 2015 Gjirokastra Textile Conservation training included three textile conservators, Mela Penrhys, Azra Becevic-Sarenkapa and Charley Gamper from HWB, Lyndsey Mackay, also from HWB, who tackled the interpretation aspect and Nedi Petri, from CHwB Albania,
Camp participants were divided into three work groups: one group worked with the dining room, one with the exhibition and a third group worked with the storage facility.
The group that was responsible for the storage, where the Ethnographic Museum’s fund is preserved, focused on cleaning up and putting in order the storage space. New, light, metallic shelves were installed, textiles were packed with care and placed on the new shelves.
The dining room was in need of an intervention, not only in cleaning, but also in preventing further damages caused by humidity and water that got in through the problematic roof. All of carpets and sitting places were taken off and cleaned and underneath them TYPEK materials were placed, to prevent damages from humidity and allows for ventilation. Sergjenët, shelves for dishes, were cleaned, organized and the dishes, which were cleaned with care, were put back on.
Participants that worked on the exhibition were responsible for conservation of and organizing the objects that are showcased at the museum, preparing the exhibition mount, which prevents the object to come in contact with the wall, and their correct exhibition.
Thanks to the interpretation sessions was created a draft brochure for the foreign visitors of the Ethnographic Museum; the conception of a “find the hidden treasure” map for the children that visit the museum and ideas were collected on how to make these visits more interesting for the children.
A day prior to the conclusion of the traning, children from the Gjirokastra’s Cultural Centre for Children visited the Ethnographic Museum and witnessed first hand a conservation practice session.
Gjirokastra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Southern Albania; a historic Ottoman influenced town built around a 13th century castle. Its 43,000 residents include Albanian, Greek, Vlach and Roma communities. The area has a rich textile history, with much of the production of costume and textiles traditionally undertaken by women. However, in recent decades many of these traditional skills have been dying out and the Ethnographic Museum, once one of the most important in Albania, is facing huge difficulties to survive, along with many other museums.