Situated in Skopje’s Old Bazaar near the Kale Fortress, the Museum of Macedonia is one of the country’s oldest and largest museums. Originally established in 1924, it covers three separate disciplines: archaeology, ethnology and history.
We took one look at the building, and almost decided to cancel our visit. The place is massive and extremely old… and not the positive, dignified type of “old.” The building’s windows are shattered, its walls are cracked and dirty, and it seems more likely to house a family of squatters than a museum of any importance.
But after tentatively stepping through the door, we did find a guy selling tickets. The archaeological and historical sections were closed, their collections presumably moved to the new Museum of Archaeology (which had yet to open), but the ethnological wing was still active. Exhibits consisted of the usual suspects: farm equipment, kitchen utensils, clay pots, carpets, religious icons, and an endless supply of traditional dresses and costumes. It was decently presented, but the kind of stuff we’ve seen plenty of times before and it didn’t capture our imaginations.
However, we did enjoy our visit, thanks to the surreal qualities of the building itself. I’ve rarely been in a museum so clearly in need of immediate renovation (or closure). The lights were dim, many of the glass cases were empty, and the atmosphere was unsettling. As we walked upstairs into the museum’s smaller rooms, the costumes began to take on a leering, sinister quality. And the rusty, dull blades of the antiquated farm implements were downright menacing. An insane serial killer could make quite the happy home in the Museum of Macedonia.