Ştirbey Palace

Barbu Ştirbei, ruling prince of Wallachia (1849-1853, 1854-1856), inherited a wide piece of land in Buftea, near Bucharest. One of his 9 sons, Alexandru Ştirbei, inherited the land in Buftea and built a palace there in 1864, on the design of a Swiss chateau and the original wooden staircases, shutters and roof create the atmosphere of a posh hunting lodge. Set over 24 hectares of park, the grounds are teaming with gingko, magnolia and cypresses, with oaks dating back 500 years.

Ştirbey Palace is one of the best examples of romantic architecture in Romania at the time of its accomplishment. The only information regarding the construction of the palace is found on the west side: the year 1864 and, above, the A-B-S letters, representing the name of Alexandru B. Ştirbey, are cut in the center of a circle accentuated by four arches with a Gothic profile.

The Gothic style, which is discreetly represented on the outside and more visibly so inside, is combined with decorations that talk about the interest in romantic searches of the European and Romanian architecture of the 19th century, all of these underlying the overall simplicity which confers this building its particular character. The interiors contain a rich decoration, with vast carved wood sections, everything being set around the interior staircase sculpted in oak and bearing the family blazon. The painted or sculpted wooden ceilings, the Neo-Gothic blazons above the doors, as well as the chimneys make the image complete about the interiors. Downstairs, in the central saloon, there are still very well preserved original windows and doors with their wooden frames, with oak gothic-like decorations, wooden beams, a fireplace of white Carrara marble, and the walls with classic wooden decorations.

As a consequence of his wife’s death, Alexandru Ştirbei built a monumental chapel in the park between 1885 and 1890, including traces of wall-paintings by neoclassic artist Gheorghe Tattarescu.

In 1895 however Alexandru died and his oldest son, Barbu Ştirbei, inherited the domain in Buftea. A passionate agriculturist, he founded a huge farm near the palace and started to buy pieces of land in the neighborhood, becoming one of the richest men in the country. During WW1 the palace sheltered Queen Maria and then it was bombed by German planes. Both Ştirbei family and Queen Maria retreated in Iaşi, and the palace was robbed by the German army, which also took it over, with the German Military Commandment settling in Buftea in January 1917. On March 5, 1918, the peace agreement with Austro–Hungary and Germany was signed in the palace. Time passed by, the German troops were defeated, the surrender peace in Buftea was canceled and Ştirbei family could return to their palace, restoring it.

The palace and all other belongings in Buftea were confiscated by the communist government after 1946 and between 1949 and 1952 it was abandoned, all valuables being stolen. The palace was however restored in 1959, being meant as a diplomatic residence and it hosted – among other important guests – Nikita Khrushchev, the leader of the U.S.S.R., when he attended the 3rd congress of the Romanian Workers’ Party in 1960. In 1964, Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej and Nikita Khrushchev signed a deal to withdraw Russian troops from Romania in the palace Once again restored after the earthquake in 1977, the former owners regained the property after 1990 following a long dispute. In 2007, a consortium of Romanian investors, Bucharest Arena, purchased the property from the descendants of Ştirbey for nine million Euro and now intend to invest at least 30 million in its renovation.

CEC Palace

CEC Palace (Romanian: Palatul C.E.C. – Casa de Economii şi Consemnaţiuni) is the former headquarters of the national savings house and is located in Bucharest on Calea Victoriei. Today it is a historical building owned by the municipality and intended to host in the future the Art Museum of Bucharest.

Before the erection of the palace, the spot was occupied by the ruins of a monastery (Saint John the Great) and an adjoining inn. The church, built in the 16th century, was renovated by Constantin Brâncoveanu during 1702-1703, but later degraded and was demolished in 1875. The palace was built as a new headquarters for the public savings institution Casa de Depuneri, Consemnaţiuni şi Economie, later known as C.E.C. (Romanian: Casa de Economii şi Consemnaţiuni), the oldest Romanian bank, founded in 24 November 1864 by ruling prince Alexandru Ioan Cuza. The lands were bought and the building built with the institutions's own funds. Work started on the 8th of June, 1897 and ended in 1900. The projects were designed by the French architect Paul Guttereau, a graduate of the School of Art in Paris, while the construction was supervised by the Romanian architect Ion Socolescu.

After 106 years of service, the building was deemed no longer fit for modern banking and was therefore sold to the municipality to be used as a museum, in exchange for 17.787 mil. euro. Even if no longer open to CEC clients, the Palace remains rented as bank headquarters until a new suitable building is found or built.

Built in eclectic style, the palace ends in a glass and metal dome. The entrance features an arch supported by two pairs of columns in composite style. The four corners are decorated with gables and coats of arms and ending in Renaissance domes (from Wikipedia).


Mediaş (Saxon: Medwesch, Medeš, Medveš, German: Mediasch, Medwisch, Hungarian: Medgyes, Sekely: Megyeš) is the second largest city in Sibiu County, Transylvania, Romania.

An old settlement, Medias opens its gates generously to those who want to see the way time bears fruit between the Transylvanian hills. Mediaş is located in the middle basin of Târnava Mare River, at 39 km from Sighişoara and 41 km from Blaj. The setting up and the historic development of the town reflect the common destiny of the Romanians, the Hungarians, the Saxons and the other nations in a continuous process which belongs to their history.

The first signs of human communities in the area go as far as the middle Neolithic. In the XIII century, the kings of Hungary invited Germany settlers known as Transylvanian Saxons to the area, who settled in the valley of the Târnava Mare River. According to the tradition, the town was founded in 1146, being so one of the oldest cities in Transylvania. In 1200, here would have lived around 100 inhabitants and the first document that mentions the city is dated June 3, 1267. In 1318, the Hungarian king Charles Robert of Anjou offers the complete rights for the Sibiu region to the people living in Mediaş; in 1359, Mediaş is called for the first time a city ("civitas"). The first seal of Mediaş was used in 1448.

The St. Margaret Church was the first church built in Mediaş in 1414, and the first document that notes the presence of a hospital in the city is dated 1487. The city is fortified between 1490-1534 by the people living in Mediaş and Şeica, after a document signed in 1477 by the king Matthias Corvinus's office. In 1562 34 guilds are registered. The first mentioning of a school in Mediaş ("Schola civitatis") was in 1596.

Mediaş has one of the best preserved historical centers in Romania and also some well preserved medieval fortifications. One of the most impressive symbols of the town is the Tower of the Buglers, which is about 70 meters tall. Its construction started in the 13th century. In the 15th century it was raised to 5 tiers. The St. Margaret Church was finished at about the same time. Later, 3 more tiers were added in only 2 months. The roof consists of colored vitrified tiles, and 4 turrets were built. The tower had a guard, who would sound his bugle whenever an enemy approached. Therefore the tower has this name. The tower has in its South-Western corner (between the clocks) a small wooden man who rings a bell, thus announcing in advance when the clock will ring on the hour. The heavy pressure of the tower on the sandy soil is the reason why the tower is slightly tilted to the North. Between 1927 and 1930, and later in 1972, the tower was consolidated. The tilt of the tip compared with the base is 2.32 m.

The city lies in the middle of the area which was inhabited by Transylvanian Saxons and in an area of 20 km around it there are dozens of fortified churches, two of them UNESCO World heritage sites.


Cultural heritage is not limited to material manifestations, such as monuments and objects that have been preserved over time. This notion also encompasses living expressions and the traditions that countless groups and communities worldwide have inherited from their ancestors and transmit to their descendants, in most cases orally.

A Romanian folkloric dance included in UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage is Căluşarii. The căluşari (Romanian pronunciation: [kəluˈʃarʲ]) is the Romanian word for participants in a traditional folk dance, the căluş, nowadays mainly found in Southern Romania. The word may also be found spelt as căluşarii (Romanian for "the căluşari"), căluşeri, căluş, căluşel, and also (due to the lack of diacritics in the English alphabet) calusari, calushari, caluseri, calusheri, etc. The tradition is also played by the Vlachs (Romanians) of Serbia and Bulgaria, and hence was introduced into the folklore of Bulgaria under the same name, spelled Kalushar/Kalushari.

The dance is thought to be derived from a pre-Christian fertility ritual and spring rite, and is said to bring luck, health and happiness to the villages in which it is danced. Others maintain that it is rooted in the ancient Indo-European worship of horse. It is quite possible that various traditions became mixed in the course of history. For example, căluşari are also supposed to have healing powers.

The oldest records are the musical notations of Ioan Căianu (17th century), and its mentioning in Dimitrie Cantemir`s Descriptio Moldaviae (1714). A Căluşari group is active for only a ritually defined period of time during the spring, and begins with a ceremony called "raising the flag", which is performed secretly and includes the members swearing oaths to the group and its leader. During the period of Căluş, the members are bound by a taboo against any sexual contact with women, and married members must live apart from their wives. There is always an odd number of men in a group. In addition to the dancing, the group also does skits very much like the folk theater.

The most important part, of what they do is the ritual curing of delirium or paralysis caused by possession by wood or water nymphs, or fairies. Before performing this ritual, one of the members draws a magic circle around the group with his sword. The space inside is considered sacred space, and no one else is permitted to enter except the person being cured. The leader would divine the specific taboo that had been violated by the victim, and pick the dance appropriate to it. After the dance, the cure culminated in the breaking of an earthenware jar next to the sick person, destroying the evil spirits. Sometimes one of the Căluşari would then become possessed as the victim recovers. He would then be revived by one of the many types of death and resurrection skits that are a large part of the folk theater. Again, many of these have humorous and bawdy aspects. The leader of the group is the one responsible for choosing and training any new members, and is also the keeper of the mysteries, passing the secrets orally to his successor. One retired leader would not reveal any of the secrets even though there was no longer a group in his village, but indicated that he still had to pass on the knowledge.


Now days, the Căluşari, often accompanied by a masked personage (the mute or the fool) carry clubs and are performing dances of great virtuosity. The unexpected developments of the dance are accompanied by "strigături" (humorous or satirical verse chanted during the dance) and the tunes sung by the groups of interpreters. Dancers wear white trousers and white tunics, with brightly coloured ribbons streaming from their hats. Bells are attached to their ankles, and dances include the use of sticks held upright whilst dancing, or pointing at the ground as a prop. The dance includes the following elements:
- The starting figure of walking (plimbări), or a basic step, in a circle moving counter clockwise.
- More complex figures (mişcare) performed in place between walking steps.
- Figures are formed from combinations of elements, often have a beginning-middle-end structure.

In Slatina (a town in Southern Romania), every year opens the Festival of Căluşari, presenting the distinct style of each separate team of dancers. Thrilling competitions of virtuosity are interrupted by solo dancers, some of whom are very old men, and even children who have inherited their parent's talent.

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.

An unique song -The Skylark

Ciocâlia (The Skylark) is an unique folkloric song from Southern Romania, that can be played only by a virtuoso of pan pipe, flute, reed, violin or pipe. Here are some performances of this song:


Gheorghe Zamfir - Ciocârlia


Phoenix - The Skylark


Transbalkanica - The Skylark


"10 Prăjini" Fanfare - Ciocârlia

Iosif Iser

Iosif Iser (May 21, 1881, Bucharest — April 25, 1958, Bucharest) was a great Romanian painter and graphic artist.

He studied painting in Munich under Anton Azbe and Johann Herterich. After a period in Romania (1905-1907) he went to Paris, where he studied at the Académie Ranson and mixed with the avant-garde of Montmartre, including Brâncuşi and Derain. Returning to Bucharest in 1909, he organized the first exhibition of modern art at the Athenée Palace.

During World War I he fought on the Moldavian front, but he continued to paint, including military personnel. His work in this period was influenced by that of Cézanne; it was geometric in spirit, but figurative, and it concentrated on representations of the exotic physiognomies and the spectacular landscape of the Tartars of Balcic, a small port on the Black Sea. The best-known of these is the Tartar Family (1921; Bucharest, N. Mus. A.), which in its stylized volumes shows the influence of Cubism.

He has participated in 1926 at the Berlin Secession exhibition, and the '30s is present in many personal and group exhibitions in Paris, Bucharest, Brussels, The Hague and Amsterdam, the most remarkable event being the retrospective in Bucharest in 1936, when he exposed 431 works. Iser is one of the founders of the artistic group "Art", together with George Petraşcu and Ştefan Popescu, all awarded with the Grand Prize at the International Exhibition of Paris in 1937.

Iser's work was also influenced by literature and by the performing arts. He specialized in re-creating the environments of ballerinas and harlequins (e.g. Harlequin and Dancer, 1929; Bucharest, N. Mus. A.). He lived again in Paris from 1921 to 1934, and after his return to Romania he remained faithful to his established themes. After the WWII, the artist was present at several group and personal exhibitions in New York (1948), Moscow and St. Petersburg (1956), Vienna (1957), Venice Biennale (1954). In 1955, he was elected a full member of the Romanian Academy.

Decumarellus sarbui

Decumarellus sarbui is the first cave genus belonging to the Tyrini in the whole world; such a genus of the Tyrini tribe has never been signaled in a cave. It lives in Movile Cave, near Mangalia, Constanţa County, Southeastern Romania. The species is endemic for the chemoautotrophically based groundwater ecosystem at Mangalia and unique in the world.

Kingdom: Animalia
Subkingdom: Eumetazoa
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Hexapoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Coleoptera
Suborder: Polyphaga
Infraorder: Staphyliniformia
Superfamily: Staphylinoidea
Family: Staphylinidae
Subfamily: Pselaphinae
Tribe: Tyrini
Genus: Decumarellus
Species: sarbui
Scientific name: Decumarellus sarbui Poggi, 1994

The genus Decumarellus is dedicated to the Romanian bio-speleologist Vasile Decu and at the same time reminds of the un-doubtful relationship with the genus Marellus. The species (sarbui) is dedicated to Romanian scientist Dr. Şerban M. Sârbu, from the Department of Biological Sciences of the Cincinnati University, USA.

Decumarellus sarbui shows the typical morphological adaptations to the live in caves. It might be the extreme result of the differentiation of a branch of the genus Marellus, which settled down in the hypogeus habitat and evolved independently, at least since the possibility of a link between the cave and the surface fauna came to a stop. According to the geological, hydrological and palaeo-geographical data, the isolation of the cave goes back to the end of Miocene (almost 5.5-5.2 millions of years ago) when the climate of the Southern Dobrogea got extremely dry in connection with the crisis of salinity from Messinian.

Sophrochaeta reitteri retezati

Sophrochaeta reitteri retezati (Mallász, 1928) is an unique round fungus beetle, rare and endemic, that lives in some caves in Southwestern Romania (Banat).

Kingdom: Animalia
Subkingdom: Eumetazoa
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Hexapoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Coleoptera
Suborder: Polyphaga
Infraorder: Staphyliniformia
Superfamily: Staphylinoidea
Family: Leiodidae
Subfamily: Cholevinae
Tribe: Leptodirini
Subtribe: Pholeuina
Genus: Sophrochaeta
Subgenus: Cernella
Species: reitteri
Subspecies: retezati

Sophrochaeta Reitter 1885 [genus]
Cernella Jeannel 1930 [subgenus]

Accepted name: Sophrochaeta (Cernella) reitteri retezati Mallász 1928

Image from Biodiversity Heritage Library

Damian Drăghici

Damian Drăghici, born in Bucharest, Romania, 1970, to a Roma family that had nurtured musical talent for seven generations, is a virtuoso musician particularly associated with the Romanian Pan pipes (nai, pan flute), one of the most noted exponent of his particular instrument in the world, has focused new international attention on the ancient Romanian pan flute.

He started playing at age of 3. By the age of 12 he started performing in restaurants and clubs and defying clichés - from the age of 12 till 18 he won 5 times the first prize of the National Festival of Romania. By the age of 14, Damian had performed the European classical works of Amadeus Mozart and Johann Sebastian Bach on national television. The musician became known for his impressive technique on the pan flute, and Romanians nicknamed him "the Speed of Light" because of his ability to play complex, challenging music at fast tempos. At 18, he clandestinely crossed the border with Yugoslavia and get to Greece. There, he busked in the streets before landing a nightclub gig playing keyboards. In 1996 he auditioned for faculty members visiting Athens from the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Damian Draghici - Beyond the Black Sea

Berklee offered Drăghici a full scholarship. Following the granting of a visa for the United States, he began to study under George Garzone. After only a short time in America, he has become recognized for his outstanding ability and talent. Following graduation from college with a Magna Cum Laude majoring in Jazz Performance he relocated to Los Angeles and is currently working with major Hollywood composers. In 2004, Drăghici joined as one of the headliners, James Brown, Joe Cocker, reggae star Shaggy, Cyndi Lauper, Zucherro, Gypsy Kings, Roger Hodgson (Supertramp) and The Pointer Sisters for one of Europe's most esteemed musical events the Night of the Proms tour.

Damian & Brothers

Back in Romania, Damian Drăghici had an ideal biography to become a national hero: he opposed the communist regime; escaped the country without a dollar in his pocket and worked hard his path to the stars; started as just another poor Roma musician and ended as the great Romanian prodigy. In November 2001 he made a big return to his native country. With a 150-piece orchestra he played in front of 72,000 people at the notorious Civic Center in Bucharest. A strong symbolism: the grand boulevard that Ceauşescu modeled on the Champs-Élysées as a monument to his rule was for the first time in its history used to its full potential by – in a way - the most successful opponent to the very same regime.

Damian Draghici - Unreach

In 2006 Drăghici decided to come back to his roots, by putting the bases of a new group with “his gypsy brothers” as he likes to called them. One of the purposes of “Damian & Brothers, Filarmonika Rromanes” is to change the international perception and the stereotypes over Roma (Gypsy) minority through their music. The impact and the huge popularity achieved until now are a confirmation of their common effort.

He still lives in California and often visits Bucharest. Damian won a Grammy, in 2007 he released his 18th album. The official recognition of Drăghici’s efforts and dedication to promoting Roma minority came on 20th of March 2007 when he was designated by the President of Romania, as Romania’s Ambassador for the Roma minority in the 2007 European Year of Equal Opportunities for All and in 2008 as the Ambassador for European Year of Intercultural Dialogue.

Filarmonika Romanes - Saraiman

His recordings - many of which are instrumental, although he sometimes features vocalists - could be described as world music, but he certainly doesn't limit himself to any one style of it. Damian, a gypsy, is unpredictable, and the musician has been influenced by rock, pop, jazz, new age, and classical as well as Eastern European, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Latin music (especially Spanish flamenco, although he has also acknowledged Afro-Cuban salsa and South American/Andean music).

The Art Collections Museum (Part 3)

Prof. Garabet Avakian Collection

Garabet Avachian (1907-1967), a talented musician and violin teacher at the Conservatory “Ciprian Porumbescu” in Bucharest, acquired an impressive amount of Romanian paintings and folk art, Western European decorative art and furniture, as well as Oriental art. In 1968, his wife donated the collection to the state.

Nude and Apples, Theodor Pallady

Painting was undoubtedly the collector’s favorite genre, and Theodor Pallady his great passion. Furthermore, the collection includes many canvases signed by other renowned Romanian artists, such as Nicolae Grigorescu, Ştefan Luchian, Gheorghe Petraşcu, Dimitrie Ghiaţă, Lucian Grigorescu and Alexandru Ciucurencu. The visitors can also admire an impressive collection of icons on glass, representative for the evolution of the genre, revealing the stylistic differences among the main Romanian creative schools.

Garabet Avachian was also interested in oriental art and his collection features Chinese bronze sculptures, Japanese cloisonné, ceramics, swords, paintings on silk, and several Turkish and Caucasian carpets, as well as Persian ceramics.

The comparative art collection of Alexandra and Barbu Slătineanu

Barbu Slătineanu (1895-1959) was an expert of Romanian folk ceramics, who studied systematically, taking part in archaeological excavations and writing studies on ceramics in specialised publications. His wife, Alexandra (1985-1979) was a passionate collector of folk textiles, icons on wood and glass, as well as paintings. The collection was opened to the public in 1948, and in 1951 it was donated to the state together with other objects that had remained in the possession of the family. The phrase “comparative art collection” emphasises the donors’ intention of revealing the specificity of Romanian artistic creation within a universal context.

The Carrot Gatherer, 1885, Vincent Van Gogh

The Romanian folk ceramics (17th-20th centuries) offer a comprehensive overview of the country’s most important pottery centres. Alongside ceramics, the originality of Romanian folk art is reflected by textiles, carpets, folk costumes, and furniture pieces.

Gallé Desk, Carved wood, marquetry

Furthermore, the collection holds paintings and engravings by Romanian artists, such as Nicolae Grigorescu, Ştefan Luchian and Iosif Iser. Western art is illustrated by seventeenth- to nineteenth-century provincial furniture pieces. A coal drawing by Vincent van Gogh, which apparently was bought from the famous art dealer Ambroise Vollard, is undoubtedly the collection’s most valuable representation of Western art.

Several items in silver, as well as some oriental arms (18th-19th centuries) round out the collection.

(From MNAR)

The Art Collections Museum (Part 2)

Béatrice and Hrandt Avakian Collection

The collection of brothers Béatrice and Hrandt Avakian is a complex ensemble of Romanian, European and Oriental art. Béatrice Avakian (1905-1996) was passionate about jewelery, wooden and ivory miniatures, embroidery, and Bohemia crystal. Hrandt Avakian (1900-1990) was mostly attracted by bronze statuettes, archaeological items, Roman glassware, textiles and ceramics.

One of the collection’s highlights is a group of Japanese small sculptures (18th - 19th century), which includes several netsuke (ivory and wooden miniatures) and inrõ (small lacquered and painted partitioned boxes for medicines). Other interesting objects (given the rarity of the iconographic representations) are the Lamaist bronze sculptures of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

Far Eastern Ensemble

The textile holdings comprise various Turkish and Caucasian prayer carpets (16th - 19th centuries), a spectacular horse rug woven in the sumak technique (19th century), embroideries from Bursa and Bukhara, and nineteenth-century Cashmere shawls. Precious metals art is well represented in the collection by goblets, boxes, Turkish mirrors, silverware and jewelery (silver, polychrome enamel, pearls, precious and semiprecious stones) created in workshops in Vienna, Paris, Moscow, London or Augsburg, which reflect both Oriental ostentation and Western comfort. Ceramics is likewise exhibited in the collection: Greek and Roman pieces (1st to 4th centuries), as well as Persian vases, bowls and plates from the 13th to the 19th centuries.

Pawn, silver, Oriental workshop

The collection is rounded out by paintings and drawings by Romanian artists, such as Nicolae Grigorescu, Theodor Pallady, Iosif Iser and Gheorghe Petraşcu.

Josefina and Eugen Taru Collection

The collection comprises paintings and drawings by renowned Romanian artists, such as Ioan Andreescu, Theodor Pallady, Nicolae Tonitza, Francisc Şirato, Alexandru Ciucurencu and Ioan Pacea. The donation also includes Romanian wooden icons, Russian icons (18th - 19th centuries), as well as several icons on glass dating from late 18th century.

Three-piece furniture ensemble and paintings

The visitors can also admire an ensemble of Far Eastern art works (bronze vases, chinaware, a Japanese painting) and some European eighteenth-century furniture pieces. The collection is completed by works signed by Eugen Taru, who had made a name for himself in the arts of satirical drawing and book illustration.

(From MNAR)

The Art Collections Museum (Part 1)

Established in 1978, the Art Collections Museum is housed in the former Romanit Palace. Around 1812 boyar Constantin Facca built the palace which was bought in the early 1830s by Grigore Romanit, treasurer of Prince Grigore Ghica. In 1834 Prince Alexandru Ghica rented the building, which later was to house the Administrative Court of Wallachia. Following the Union of the Romanian Principalities in 1859, the palace became the property of the Ministry of Finance; under its administration, in 1884 two wings were added to the building which largely retained the original neoclassical style.

The Museum currently holds 42 private collections (with over 12,000 works in a wide range of media) donated to the Romanian State between 1927 and 2002, among which those of Elena and Anastase Simu, Prof. Garabet Avachian, Dr. I. N. Dona, Maruca Dona, Alexandra and Barbu Slătineanu, Marcu Beza, George Oprescu, Iosif Iser, Victor Eftimiu, Dr. Mircea Petrescu and Prof. Artemiza Petrescu, Josefina and Eugen Taru, Elisabeta and Moise Weinberg, Idel Ianchelevici, Shizuko Onda, Dr. Emanoil Anca and Ortansa Dinulescu Anca, Hurmuz Aznavorian, Beatrice and Hrandt Avakian.

Buddha, Tibet

Romanian art is particularly well represented: valuable samples of folk art (icons on glass and wood, ceramics, furniture, as well as eighteenth- and nineteenth-century textiles) are shown alongside a significant body of paintings by Nicolae Grigorescu, Ioan Andreescu, Ştefan Luchian, Jean Al. Steriadi, Francisc Şirato, Gheorghe Petraşcu, Nicolae Tonitza, Nicolae Dărăscu, Theodor Pallady, Iosif Iser, Alexandru Ciucurecu, and sculptures by Frederic Storck, Oscar Han, Corneliu Medrea, Miliţa Pătraşcu, Celine Emilian, and Constantin Brâncuşi. The Museum also holds noteworthy works of art by French, Flemish and Dutch artists. Among its masterpieces are works by Gustave Courbet, Camille Pissarro, Antoine Bourdelle, David Teniers the Younger, and Vincent van Gogh.

Jar with Brushes, Gheorghe Petraşcu

The holdings of decorative art include European porcelain and furniture, alongside Egyptian vessels, statuettes and coins, Oriental textiles, Ottoman carpets from the seventeenth through the nineteenth century, Persian ceramics dating from the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries, and Tibetan statuettes in bronze. Far Eastern sculptures, cloisonné, as well as eighteenth- and nineteenth-century wood and ivory netsukes round out the collections.

The Quarantine in Sculeni, 1840, A. Raffet

The restoration of the “A Wing” of the Art Collections Museum occasioned the reopening of its cellars to the public. The three vaulted rooms, with niches (in the fake brickwork walls) ending in pointed arches, are an ideal space for organizing the Lapidarium. It hosts an important part of the stone sculpture collection of the Romanian Medieval Art Gallery.

(From MNAR)

The National Art Museum (Part 4)

Since its establishment in 1954, the Oriental Art Collection of the Museum has been steadily increased and consolidated around two main areas of interest: Islamic art, on the one hand, Chinese and Japanese art, on the other. It is the largest Oriental collection housed by a Romanian museum, and it consists of items from the royal collection, the Toma Stelian Museum, as well as gifts and acquisitions. Two distinguished collections, Dr. Ştefan Nicolau (1896-1967) and General Gheorghe Băgulescu (1896-1963) who once was Romania’s ambassador to Tokyo, contributed significantly to the growth of the present collection.

Guanyin amid Lotuses, jade, Qing Dynasty, 18th-19th c.

Over the last decade, Chinese modern works in the traditional style, recovered from the official residences of Nicolae Ceauşescu, have been added to the collection alongside recent luxury carpets presented to the Romanian dictator by the last Shah of Iran.

Scholars in a Pavilion, Qing Dynasty, 16th-17th c.

The Department of Oriental Art currently holds over 3,100 objects.
The permanent exhibition was closed due to ongoing renovation of the building, and will be redisplayed in newly refurbished areas in compliance with European standards of conservation. Meanwhile exhibitions of Oriental art are being enriched regularly.

Islamic Art
About 400 carpets covering a wide geographical area and spanning four centuries are at the core of the collection. The patrimony include tribal artifacts, Iranian and Ottoman silk carpets, seventeenth century Transylvanian carpets, providing a broad view of the development of this art in Turkey, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and Iran. Textiles and embroideries, mostly from Turkey and Central Asia, are among the strong points of the collection.

Tent bag, Central Asia (Salor tribe), 19th. c.

Though less representative than the textile collection, the selection of Islamic ceramics from Iran and Turkey includes notable works such as fifteenth- to seventeenth-century bowls, as well as vases and plates dating from more recent times. The Islamic collection also features Safavid and Qajar metalwork, arms and amour pieces.

Ewer, Ottoman Turkey (Kütahya), 18th c.

Chinese and Japanese Art
The Chinese patrimony include about 150 paintings on silk and paper from the Ming and Qing dynasties, illustrating the traditional style of Chinese professional painters.

The selection of Japanese paintings, comprising roughly 200 pieces from the Momoyama period alongside a large group dating from the Edo period, highlights the development of the Tosa, Kano, Maruyama and Ukiyo-e schools. Paintings from the Meiji period and the first quarter of the twentieth century add to the wealth and diversity of the ensemble.

Courtesan and Attendant, Kitagawa Utamaro, early 19th c.

The department also holds a noteworthy collection of jade carvings and other semiprecious stone objects produced in China in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as well as similar Japanese pieces. Valuable patrimony of ceramics and porcelain, costumes and embroideries, metalwork, cloisonné and ivories, as well as wood, bronze and stone Buddhist sculptures complement the collection of Chinese art.

Covered vase and metallic mount, Edo period, 18th c.

The collection of Japanese decorative art features ivory carvings, ceramics and porcelain, arms and armor pieces, liturgical textiles, and metalwork in the Buddhist tradition. Several wood sculptures provide an insight into the Buddhist art dating back to the beginning of the Edo period.

(From MNAR)

The National Art Museum (Part 3)

The collection of the Department of Decorative Arts, which currently holds about 11,500 objects, was established after the nationalization of the royal collection and of several smaller private collections (among which the Kalinderu Museum was the most important). Over the years numerous gifts and purchases had enriched its patrimony. The permanent display of the department - inaugurated in 1978 - is now closed. However, in a couple of years time, the collection will be put on view in a gallery of decorative arts to be housed by the Museum. Meanwhile, exhibitions are enriched each year, based entirely on the department’s collections. The department’s holdings are structured by object classification.

King Solomon Receiving the Queen of Sheba

The textile collection of some 300 items, among which 100 tapestries, include exquisite creations of the Flemish workshops in Brussels (such as King Solomon Receiving the Queen of Sheba, the oldest tapestry in the collection), Oudenaarde and Lille, and of the French workshops in Beauvais and Aubusson.

Empress Elisabeth of Austria

The department also has approximately 300 miniature paintings, by famous European artists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, such as Jean Baptiste Isabey, Richard Cosway, Franz Xavier Winterhalter, as well as by well-known Romanian artists, such as Ion D. Negulici, Anton Chladek, Carol Popp de Szathmary.

Pair of decorative vases

A significant collection of ceramics and glassware with some 5,000 items documents the craftsmanship of designers and modelers in Faenza, Urbino, Delft, Sèvres, and Meissen. Alongside valuable glassware from the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, of particular interest are several unique Art Nouveau works by Emile Gallé, the Daum brothers, and René Lalique. About 1,000 pieces of furniture reflect the development and diversity of artistic styles in major West European countries.

Painted cassone – The Doge of Venice Receiving the Queen of Cyprus

The furniture collection of abour 1,000 pieces features mostly French furniture in the Louis XV and Louis XVI styles, and Art Nouveau furniture. It also contains some beautiful Italian pieces, representative of the Milanese workshops, as well as several German and Austrian Biedermeier ensembles.

Egg-shaped bonbonnière

Alongside jewelery, jade and ivory carvings, the department also has approximately 3,300 objects in silver, bronze or tin, and seventeenth- to nineteenth-century clocks, which make up a noteworthy collection of metalwork. Thirty-seven highlights from the collection are presented online, organized chronologically by object classification and country of origin (schools, workshops and artists).

(From MNAR)