Museum of the Romanian Peasant.  in Bucharest, Romania

Museum of the Romanian Peasant

in Bucharest, Romania

bucharest romania 911 Museum of the Romanian Peasant (2) Photo © DAVID HOLT

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Museum of the Romanian Peasant

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Sheltered in a Neo-Classical historical monument, and counting a very rich collection of items, the National Museum of the Romanian Peasant in Bucharest stands out through a very special museology, which in 1996 brought it the European Museum of the Year Award.

History

As the Romanian principalities became united, and a new social and national values consolidation process began, the status of peasant was starting to become a symbolic reference of Romanian identity, and rural culture was starting to increase in popularity among urban citizens. To kick-start the “house industry”, which was eclipsed by the industrial revolution and its wave of foreign, cheaper products that were in fashion, Alexandru Ioan Cuza (Wikipedia Article) issued in 1863 the organization of several exhibits that will include rural and homemade products of the Romanian tradition. As the exhibits and trading markets have proved to be well-received, the idea of a national museum, which would host the artsy craft of Romanians started to circulate.

Egg Painting - Museum of the
	Romanian Peasant
Egg Painting - Museum of the Romanian Peasant.

The farthest ancestor of the museum was the National Antique Museum, founded in 1864. This is where, in 1875, a special section exhibiting traditional Romanian textile art was organized at the initiative of Titu Maiorescu (Wikipedia
	Article). Some of the current pieces exposed today, dates from this period. All these attempts were made chaotically and without a certain museographic vision, which had Tzigara-Samurcaş, the museum's founder, asking if Romanians really are “worthy of a national museum?” His whole life, he tried to answer affirmatively. The first form was that of the Museum of Ethnography, National, Decorative and Industrial Art, a name which he considered inadequately long, and which was eventually changed to “Museum of National Art”, known colloquially as the “Museum by the Road”. In 1912, the foundation stone of the current museum building was cast on the former site of the State Mint, though the structure wasn't finished until several decades later.

After World War II, when it barely avoided becoming the barracks of the “liberating army”, the building would transform, starting 1953, into the Lenin-Stalin Museum, the Museum of the Romanian Communist Party, the Museum of the Romanian Democratic Movement, turning more and more into a museal homage to president Nicolae Ceauşescu. Many of its exhibits and collections were moved in different museums, only to be recovered after the revolution.

In 1990, the new minister of culture officially founded the Museum of the Romanian Peasant.
Keeping its actuality since the beginning of the 20th century, the museum is not really an ethnographic museum. Always open to change and to the “present”, its proposal is to study the rural environment and the archetypal peasant. Despite the name, it is not a society museum, which to depict solely the life of certain communities in the country, but rather that of a human universality represented by the peasant. This vision of a timeless spirituality is probably what kept it outside the European circle of museums with which it doesn't identify, far from a stereotypical label, and what brought won it the European Museum of the Year Award.

Architecture

Designed by Nicolae Ghica Budeşti, an expert in Romanian school of architecture, and inspired by the Neo-Romanian style, especially with Brâncovenesc traits, the edifice stands out through the expression of the composition and the balanced use of decorative floral and zoomorphic elements. The red brick masonry, great arched windows, the lodge pillars, and the silhouette of the tower, gives the building the balanced sumptuousness of a true palace of art.

Visiting

One of the most popular exhibits of the museums is the “House within the House”, previously owned by Antonie Mogoş, and designed by Tzigara-Samurcaş with outside objects being switched for inside items. Beside the traditional art pieces exposed inside (over 100,000), handmade pottery to specific clothing, egg painting exhibits, and many more, the museum is known to feature many festivals and activities for children and elders, creativity and summer workshops, concerts, anthropology projections, colloquiums, and cultural evenings, through which it stands out from other museums as one of actuality.

The House within the House -
	Museum of the Romanian Peasant
The House within the House - Museum of the Romanian Peasant.


It is open every day of the week except Monday, between 10 AM and 6 PM. The price of a ticket is 6 RON ($1.50) for adults ( €2 ($1.73)), 2 RON ($0.38) ( €0 ($0.39)) for students, and 3 RON ($0.75) ( €1 ($0.78)) for seniors. Every 26th day of the month the entrance is free of charge.

How to Get There

To reach the museum, take the subway to Victoriei station, or buses 205, 300, 381, 783, to the same station. Taxis in Bucharest are rather cheap, and Victoriei is considered a central area, so this is probably the best way.

Other Attractions

Right behind the Romanian Peasant Museum is the Natural History Museum, which displays natural fossils and dinosaur skeletons. Down Victory Lane (Calea Victoriei), at walkable distance, you will find the National Art Gallery (former Royal Palace of Bucharest) and the Romanian Athenaeum, home of the Romanian Philharmonic Orchestra.

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Author: aelumag. Last updated: Sep 27, 2014

Pictures of Museum of the Romanian Peasant

Museum of the Romanian Peasant
Museum of the Romanian Peasant. Photo by Magalie L'Abbé

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