The House of Leaves
The most recently opened of Tirana’s communist-era buildings is the former surveillance centre of the Sigurimi, Albania’s secret police. It was built in 1931as a maternity clinic, founded by Zog I’s personal physician and taken over secretly by the Sigurimi for use of mainly by the technicians who tapped people’s telephones and installed bugs in their apartments. Also based there was the department responsible for spying on foreign visitors and residents, intercepting communications in hotels and embassies in Tirana and maintaining detailed notes about every foregner in the country.
The House of Leaves museum displays original items used by the Sigurimi to spy on ‘the enemy within’(ie: virtually everyone in Albania) and ‘the external enemy’ (everybody else). The collection includes original recording devices, photographic equipment and bugs, along with illustrations of how the bugs were concealed.
Archive film screened in various rooms document statements given by individuals under interrogation, show trainers explaining how to use the equipment and give a voice to some of the survivors.
In the video room, you can watch and listen through headphones to a huge number of further films, documentaries, feature films and interviews. Photographs, reproduced documents, plans and diagrams complement the films and artefacts. A replica living room with made-in-Albania household items from the communist period provides a moment of light relief.