"Franz Binder" Museum

The "Franz Binder" World Ethnographic Museum is set in Sibiu, 11 Small Square, is the only museum in Romania that specializes in non-European ethnology, and, due to the exceptional value of its patrimony, represents an important department within the 'ASTRA' National Museum Complex - that also includes other subdivisions such as Romanian, Saxon or Roma ethnography. The museum is named after Franz Binder, a merchant and a diplomat who spent more than 20 years in Africa at the middle of the 19th century.

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The museum premises are a historical monument. The existing Hermes House, initially called The House of the Small Handicraftsmen's Association (Burger- und Gewerbeverein-Haus) was built between 1865 and 1867 and inaugurated on November 24, 1867, thus, becoming the administrative centre of this Association as well as a place where various activities took place (club, library, school for journeymen, exhibition room for handicraft products). Then, this building had several destinations and, only in 1990, it became the premises for the new ethnographic museum, regaining its true purpose of popularizing the authentic values of material and spiritual civilization.

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The museum collections were established in the 19th century through donations and acquisitions that belonged to travellers and collectors of such objects: Franz Binder, Andreas Breckner, Karl Meliska, Carl F. Jickeli, Arthur von Sachsenheim, Herman von Hannenheim, Gustav Adolf Schoppelt, Alfred Capesius, W. Schonhut, A. Schwabe, G.A. Seraphin, Emerich Schuleri, Hans Mallik, Rudolf Nussbacher, Christine Schuster, Helene Fischer, Wagner von Wetterstadt a.s.o. Most of them were members of the Transylvanian Society for the Natural Sciences (Siebenburgische Verein fur Naturwissenschaften), which carried on its activity between the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century.

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The exotic collections of the museum fall into two categories: the old collections constituted between the second half of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century as a result of the Transylvanian Saxon travellers' donations to the Transylvanian Society for Natural Sciences from Sibiu; and the new collections established by exchanging collections, distributions, donations, acquisitions a.s.o. Thus, the exotic ethnographic patrimony of the museum, starting with the Egyptian mummy (donated by the Austrian-Hungarian consul in Egypt in 1907, Hermann von Hannenheim) and ending with the latest handicraft acquisitions, can find its place within a very diverse historical, geographical, ethno-cultural, and anthropological background. Originating from various parts of the world - northern Africa and the springs of Nile, China, Japan, Oceania, Asia Minor, Brazil, Lapland, Australia etc. - the objects belonging to the 'exotic collection' entered into the patrimony of the Natural Sciences Museum, forming a cabinet exhibition that was opened in the museum building until 1957.

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The collections were enriched after 1990 through successive acquisitions, exchanges or donations: the Zairean collection purchased from Violeta and Catalin Rang from Bacau, the ex-presidential collection of presents, comprising objects of extra-European origin (over 400 pieces donated from the gifts fund donated to the Romanian Presidency between 1965 and 1989), Japanese traditional toys obtained through an exchange of collections with the Museum of Toys from Hyogo, the national minority costumes collection donated by the Embassy of the People's Republic of China at Bucharest a.s.o.

"Emil Sigerius" Museum

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Petru Poni

Petru Poni (b. January 4, 1841, Săcăreşti village, Iaşi County - d. April 2, 1925, Iaşi) was a chemist, physicist, educator, mineralogist and Romanian politician, pioneer of chemical education in Romania.

He followed the primary school in Tâgu-Frumos and then the Central Gymnasium in Iaşi (1852-1859). He received a scholarship in Paris specializing in physical chemistry and mineralogy at the College de France and the Sorbonne. Poni returned in Romania in 1865 and in 1866 he taught at the Military School of Sciences. In 1878 he became head of the Department of Chemistry at University of Iaşi, where he taught for 33 years. Here he founded: the first laboratory of Chemistry (1882) and the Department of Organic Chemistry (1891). In 1897, Petru Poni and Anastasia Obregia inaugurated in the new building of the University of Iaşi a chemistry laboratory, after the German model. In 1903 Prof. Petru Poni introduced a new course, The chemical study of the oil.

In June 30, 1879 he was elected member of the Romanian Academy and in 1889 he was appointed Commissioner of the Romanian government at the Universal Exhibition in Paris. He collaborated on the establishment of scientific societies in Romania: the Romanian Society of Sciences (1890), the Society of Sciences (1900), and was a member of the Society of Natural Sciences in Moscow (1910).

Petru Poni is noted as one of the prominent members of the National Liberal Party (PNL). He was elected several times as deputy or senator. He also served as mayor of Iaşi in 1907 and 1922. He served three times as Minister of Religious Affairs and Education (July 21 to November 26, 1891, October 4, 1895 - November 21, 1896; October 24 to November 29, 1918).

He studied over 80 minerals collected from various parts of the country and even discovered two minerals he called Broştenite and Badenite. Petru Poni studied the action of nitric acid of various concentrations on paraffinic hydrocarbons isolated in indigenous oil. He studied the country's mineral waters and made meteorological observations in Moldova. He was one of the pioneers of Romanian Chemistry is considered the founder of the Romanian school of Chemistry. Currently, the Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry of the Romanian Academy bears his name.

Unique flora in Retezat Mountains

The Retezat Mountains National Park, founded in 1935 and considered by Greenpeace the last intact forest landscape of the Europe, has over 38,000 hectares. A third of this surface is represented by virgin forests and wild areas unaffected by human intervention. Retezat Mountains is famous for the floral diversity, accommodating nearly 1190 species of higher plants of over 3450 known in Romania. The existence here of more than a third of Romania's flora is one of the reasons for which was declared a National Park. To these are added about the same number of inferior species.

Very important for plant conservation in Retezat are over 90 endemic taxa of the 127-400 total endemic taxa accepted by different authors for Romania. The first reported endemic plant is Draba dorneri, discovered in 1858 by Heuffel. Here can be found 130 plants rare or vulnerable listed on the "Red List of higher plants in Romania" published in 1994.

Draba dorneri

In florogenetic terms Retezat Mountains are the genetic center for the genus Hieracium, which includes 257 taxa here, some endemic as Hieracium borzae, Hieracium nigrilacus, and that for the genus Poa, which includes 31 taxa. Also, a whole series of taxa and infra-taxa have their place here, like Barbarea lepuznica, Centaurea pseudophrygia ratezatensis, Oxytropis jacquinii retezatensis, Hypochoeris maculata var. carpatica, Festuca rupicola var. retezatensis.

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