The term ‘ecomuseum’ was introduced into museology in 1971 by Hughes de Varine to describe a new breed of museums appearing around the world, with ever greater frequency. A type of museum managed by local communities which aims to showcase and protect important elements of an area’s cultural and natural heritage. This is achieved through conserving and interpreting the local cultural identity, documenting and passing on historical memory, reviving local events and drawing attention and protecting the natural environment.
Around the world there are over 600 ecomuseums that deal with a variety of themes. In many cases they have successfully spearheaded the economic regeneration of large rural or depopulated areas by creating or reviving production structures, supporting traditional occupations and/or local producers and artists, and by helping to attract and accommodate alternative modes of tourism.
Although an ecomuseum retains all the features of a regular museum, it is not housed in any building nor does it display exhibits in display cases.
On the contrary, it showcases selected elements of the locale in situ. From historic buildings and production sites to natural landmarks and testimonials from local people. These selected elements highlight a specific topic and synthesize parts of the identity of an area.
The visitor of an Ecomuseum, based on a structured narrative on a particular theme can wander freely and discover the cultural and environmental identity of a place for themselves. In the Vjosa / Aoos Ecomuseum we have selected four thematic routes, two in Greece and two in Albania.
The Vjosa / Aoos River Ecomuseum was created through close collaboration with local institutions and organisations, scientists and simple residents. Its visitors can discover known and unknown aspects of the area through four thematic routes which are available in the guide of the Ecomuseum (see below), the website or the virtual tour.
A contemporary folktale based on local myths and legends and inspired by people who live locally forms the central axis of this guide which presents well- and less-known aspects of the cultural and natural heritage of the cross-border area covered by the Vjosa / Aoos River Ecomuseum. The guide seeks to help the visitor find their way around the area by means of four thematic routes which are accompanied by photographs, drawings and maps. Writers on both sides of the border worked on these thematic routes and their different sections. However, the main source of inspiration for the creation of the Ecomuseum remain the people of this place who provided their invaluable knowledge and insights and who have kept their tradition and their history through their creativity and their works. We owe all of them a big thank you!