Marubi National Museum of Photography

  Rr. Kolë Idromeno 32      +355 2 240 05 00     more than a year ago
Shkodra's greatest treasure, housed in the former state bank building, is a fascinating collection of 250,000 original negatives showing images of a Shkodra that has long gone. Covering every major event in the region between 1858 and 1959, this is one of Europe's most valuable photo collections. The museum does a great job of presenting the best of the historical images complemented by exhibitions of contemporary photography related to Albania. Marubi's workshop and photo studio have been recreated - the selfie generation is welcome to picture themselves with a classic background here.

The fascinating story of the Marubi collection starts with an inverted refugee story. Pietro Marubbi (1834-1905) fled Piacenza in northern Italy for political reasons, and settled in tolerant, open-minded Shkodra in 1856, establishing himself as an artist and architect and taking the name Pjetër Marubi. Two years later he took the first-ever photograph in Albania, set up the first photo studio of the country, and made a living making portrait photos of the local upper class families and the odd revolutionary.

In 1885, he hired an apprentice called Mikel Kodheli (1870-1940), whom he later adopted, renaming him Kel Marubi. Apart from the studio work, Kel Marubi prolifically documented city life: festivals, people at work, street scenes, landscapes with people, buildings and more. He became active in the Albanian national resistance and was in a unique position to document major historical events and personalities. Kel's son Gegë Marubi (1907-1984) studied in France at the Lumiere Brothers' school before working for the family business until the Communist takeover. Gege Marubi donated the whole photo collection to the Albanian state in 1974.

By that time, the family photo collection had grown to an astounding 150.000 glass negatives. As all Marubis had meticulously kept notes of topics and dates, and carefully stored the photo plates, the collection represents a unique documentation of regional history over a period of nearly 100 years.

The Marubi collection has since been expanded to about 250,000 negatives with the collections of the Pici family (70,000 negatives from 1924-62), the Jakova photo studio (50,000 negatives, 1932-59) and of the Nenshati photo studio (250,000 Leica and Kodak negatives, 1959-85). The latter runs a photo shop near the museum and is still documenting city life.

Another major project is the digitalisation of the collection – tens of thousands of photos have already been painstakingly scanned. The manager of the collection, Mrs Osmani, has been involved with preserving the collection for decades and has spent so much time identifying the topics and people on unmarked photos that she can recognise many long-dead members of Shkodra's prominent families.


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Open 09:00-19:00.

Price/Additional Info

Admission 700 lek.


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