The "Emil Sigerius" Museum of Saxon Ethnography and Folk Art in Sibiu was established in an attempt to fill a gap, presenting the role of the Transylvanian Saxons ethnic group in Transylvanian culture.
The museum's collections are based on the Karpatenmuseum (the Carpathians Transylvanian Museum, or MSVK) collections opened in 1895 by the Siebenbügishen Karpathenverein Association. The first exposition was inside the Museum of Natural History building and was organized around the collection of Emil Sigerus, the most important collector of Transylvanian Saxon Folk Art at the end of the 19th century. In 1920 the museum's collections were included in the Brukenthal Museum and they were displayed in a new space inside the Brukenthal Palace; from 1950, they were included in the Folk Art Section.
After the establishment of the new Museum of Traditional Folk Civilization in 1990, the Saxon collections were given over to the new establishment along with all other ethnology-related collections. In 1997, the Emil Sigerus Museum was opened in a building adjacent to the Franz Binder Museum in the Small Square. After the end of the restoration project restoring the House of the Arts in the Small Square, the museum will have a more appropriate space to exhibit its collections of over 2,700 ceramic pieces, including the permanent exposition of decorative tiles, over 4,000 objects in the classifications of costumes, textiles and embroideries and over 400 wooden, metal, or bone objects out of which over 150 are painted furniture items. Its heritage includes over 7,000 items from Transylvania from the 14th - 20th centuries. The most relevant belonged to renowned collectors such as Emil Sigerus, Julius Bielz, Wilhelm and Gisela Richter, Carl Engber and Erwin Ulbrich, completed by the acquisitions made by the museum specialists.
The museum heritage comprises three collections - costumes-textiles, pottery, wood-bone-iron, each of them including extremely valuable pieces, representative for the culture and civilization of the Transylvanian Saxons and especially for their contribution to the growth and enrichment of Romanian and world culture. The permanent exhibition "Transylvanian Store Tiles (15th - 19th centuries), located in the pavement of the building in 12 Huet Place, is a unique original attempt of presenting one of the representative crafts of the Saxon community - the manufacturing of store tiles (the store tiles collection is considered to be the most complex valuable collection of this kind in the country and one of the richest in Europe; it was first presented within the permanent exhibition opened in 1998). The archaeological excavations conducted in 1996 revealed that in the place of the current building there was a wooden house, dated on the basis of a coin from the reign of King Bela IV (1235-1270). The building was raised on a trapezoidal surface, with a pavement, two storeys and an attic. Both fronts, the one facing Small Place and the other one towards Huet Place, with identical decoration, were restored by the end of 1997. The vaulted cellar, 3-3.5 m high, was inaugurated as exhibition hall in 1997, and since the autumn of 1998 it has housed the permanent exhibition of the "Emil Sigerus" Museum of Saxon Ethnography.
The House of Arts (attested as the Butchers Hall since 1370) is considered the oldest guild house in Sibiu. In the 15th century, the building had only the ground floor, divided in 11 butcher shops with 8 open arches in front. The first floor was added later as a warehouse or meeting hall for butchers' guild. The building was used for a time by the sheepskin makers guild; in 1765 the first floor was used as show room. In 1789 was added the town coat-of-arms on the facade; in the 19th century the arches were closed and the ground floor was divided in small shops. Between 1967-1972 the building was restored and since 2002 it became property of the "Astra" National Museum Complex and was restored again. In 2007 the "Emil Sigerius" Museum moved here.
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