House of Leaves
The 2020 Council of Europe Museum Prize has been awarded to The National Museum of Secret Surveillance “House of Leaves” (Tirana, Albania). The museum was selected by the Culture Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) at a meeting in Paris on the 6th December 2019.
The National Museum of Secret Surveillance “House of Leaves” commemorates the psychological violence and total control of citizens during the communist regime in Albania (1944-1991) during which 18,000 people were prosecuted and charged and 5,000 executed. It is situated in the former State Security house in the centre of Tirana, which served as the Central Directorate of the Sigurimi, a technical branch of the Albanian State service agency. The particular feature of this small museum is that it has remained virtually intact with original equipment and recordings which are now stored in archives.
According to committee representative for the Museum Prize, Roberto Rampi (Italy, SOC), “we need to support and encourage smaller museums with less resources in openly dealing with the wounds of the past. The “House of Leaves” is a very moving museum run on a very low budget by enthusiastic staff. Today, society is confronted with the widespread use of high-tech devices and threats of mass surveillance through facial recognition, access to private data, etc. This museum is evocative of the darkest days of the past which should not be forgotten.
House of Leaves, Interrogation Room, Photo by Michael Anton