hidden europe 4

Diminutive curiosities

by Nicky Gardner


small is beautiful: three curious European museums in Mijas (Spain), Paris (France) and Dzepciste (Macedonia) - and an American competitor

hidden europe readers have often queried why we say so little about routine tourist sights: galleries, museums and the like. The truth is that we are actually not very good at conventional sightseeing, and we are ashamed to admit that despite a dozen visits to Paris, we have still not visited the Louvre. Mea culpa! So to atone for our sins, hidden europe has been in search of an interesting museum or two.

Small museums seem to be an eccentric province of the curatorial world, as I found a while back when travelling through Macedonia and ran into local architect Simeon Zlatev in the village of Dzepciste just north of Tetovo. It is an odd sort of spot, lying under the shadow of the Sar mountains which delimit the border with neighbouring Kosovo. Oddly enough, Dzepciste has that same kind of frontier feel about it as Superior in Arizona. Perhaps it is a product of similar topography and also of the distance that the valley's Albanian speaking citizens feel from the central government in Skopje. Dzepciste is an outback place of rugged faces, cautious smiles and expressive simplicity. As I found when Simeon showed me the village museum, one small room in his house in which, during three decades of assiduous collecting, he has assembled over a thousand artefacts that document two millennia of Macedonian civilisation. With a total exhibition space of just seven square metres, visitor rules are strict: no more than one at a time!

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