The Romanian Peasant Museum

The Romanian Peasant Museum is part of the European family of Museums of Popular Art and Traditions. It is a national museum, under the Ministry of Culture’s patronage. In possession of an especially rich collection of objects, hosted in a Neo-Romanian style historical monument-building, our Museum developed a highly original museography honored in 1996 by receiving the EMYA – European Museum of the Year Award. The originality of the exhibiting style is continued in the Museum’s publications, in actions such as the Missionary Museum, the Village School, concerts, conferences and exhibition openings.

The Romanian Peasant Museum’s building is placed in Victoria Square in Bucharest, next to the Natural Science Museum “Grigore Antipa” and the Geology Museum. The construction of the building, including its design was assigned to architect N. Ghika-Budeşti, leading member of the autochthonous school of architecture. According to the museographic view of the ethnographer and director Alexandru Tzigara-Samurcas, he was supposed to raise a “palace of autochthonous art” inspired by typical monastery interiors.

In 1941, after 29 years and many interruptions, the building, in its current shape is ready. Representative for the neo-Romanian style, inspired by traditional architecture, especially the Brâncovenesc style, the building is remarkable by its composition using mainly floral and zoomorphic decorations. The visible red bricklayer, the big windows under arches, the columns of the logia, the elegant silhouette of the main tower reminding of the bell towers in old monasteries make the building a true palace of art.In the 60s a new wing of offices and auxiliary rooms is added in total discordance with the style conceived by Ghika-Budeşti. A huge mosaic, characteristic for the quasi-proletkult period in Romanian Communism, individualizes the new wing.

In 1906 the first autonomous museum for peasant art was established. Lucky circumstances brought the art historian Alexandru Tzigara-Samurcaş as its first director. He renamed the institution the Ethnography and National Art Museum and from 1912 on, the National Art Museum. During the 40 years of Tzigara Samurcaş’ leadership the museum was in the avant-garde of European museology.

The so-called “liberation” of 1944 led to the “liberation” of the museum from its own home and its replacement with the Lenin-Stalin Museum. The National Art Museum moved, as a tenant, in Ştirbei Palace on Calea Victoriei, for 25 years and under a new name: the Popular Art Museum of the Romanian Popular/Socialist Republic. During this period, the museographers were forced to “forget” exhibiting some valuable collection pieces, especially the religious ones. However, they succeeded in increasing the heritage of the museum with three times as much objects of peasant art. In 1978, the Popular Art Museum and the Village Museum are united in one institution. The unification mainly meant that most of collections of the Popular Art museum remained hidden in a long and unhealthy sleep until 1990 when the museum was reestablished and brought back to its home on Kiseleff no.3.

The Romanian Peasant Musuem, National Museum of Arts and Traditions holds the richest collection of peasant objects in Romania. Almost 90.000 pieces of patrimony are as many witnesses helping our contemporaries to understand the peasant world.

The Ceramics Collection holds around 18.000 representative pieces for the almost 200 pottery centers of Romania. Tohether with these, we hold the complete inventory of some pottery workshops from Hunedoara and Valcea, dating from the 19th century. The Costume Collection holds almost 20.000 pieces of costume from all Romanian provinces starting with the first half of the 19th century.

The Collection of Decorative Interior Homespun increased from 5000 pieces in 1991 to almost 10.000 today. Most of The Wool Homespun, over 7.000 of them, are dated back to the beginning of the 19th century.

The Wood, Furniture and Ironware Collection holds almost 8000 pieces.

The Religious Collections holds almost 4.000 pieces.