House of Leaves
Museum in Tirana
The Hidden Surveillance Museum, also known as House of Leaves, so called because of the clambering plant covering its facade, is a historic museum situated in Tirana, Albania.
This grand old building of the 1930s began life as the first maternity hospital in Albania, but within a few years its purpose took a sinister change. It was used by the Gestapo during the war and then the building served as the headquarters of the Sigurimi (Directorate of State Security) and was transformed into a surveillance and detention center, or in reality a torture house. The proximity of the building to the Central Post Office was no coincidence as this facilitated the interception of the people’s correspondence. This continued as such until the Communist regime dissolved.
On 23 May 2017 The House of Leaves opened as a museum “dedicated to the innocent people who were spied on, arrested, prosecuted, convicted and executed during the communist regime.”
The museum is separated into nine different sections and reveals the advanced ways the state had control over the lives of ordinary Albanians. The sections cover topics such as – The story of the House, Bugs and other creatures – (surveillance equipment); Living microphones; What is the enemy; Intermezzo; Every day life; Voices of the past, Panopticon – Panakustikon and the Imperfect past. The exhibitions in the museum vary, some are dedicated to various microphones and technology. In other sections of the museum the statements, work, and dossiers prepared by informants of the state are displayed.