Romanian Peasant Museum prepares for aesthetic revolution

Newsroom 05/07/2010 | 13:20

In times of wider turmoil, people tend to seek shelter in national values and traditions. This is not just a truism, but a conclusion of recent Synovate research in Romania, which ranked the best loved brands on the local market. Numerous Romanian names, some of which were of long standing, made the cut. The Romanian Peasant Museum is no exception to the general trend, as one of the most popular locations in Bucharest, among tourists and locals alike. And this flagship venue is currently undergoing a major facelift.

Corina Dumitrescu


Reestablished on February 5, 1990, the Romanian Peasant Museum marks the continuation of a long tradition, as the first autonomous museum for peasant art was established in 1906. Currently, the venue is more than a static exhibition of somewhat exotic country life, offering a forum for creativity, urban socializing and the reinvention of almost lost values.

In the words of the museum’s interim general director, Virgil Stefan Nitulescu, the institution is constantly looking for new challenges, evident in the movie projections held at the New Cinema of the Romanian Director (Noul Cinematograf al Regizorului Roman), which mainly include European festival productions, shows staged in the Peasant’s Club (Clubul Taranului), conferences held within the library, exhibitions of contemporary art, fairs organized on the occasion of local celebrations and the reconsolidation works planned for the permanent collection.

As the museum’s main building is set to undergo restoration, a virtual tour of the existing collection will be launched in September. The main building and the Samurcas House, both historical monuments, are part of a national reconditioning project worth EUR 250 million, of which EUR 8 million was allocated to the Romanian Peasant Museum. Of the EUR 250 million, Nitulescu estimates that EUR 80 million is going on the restoration of the National Library (Biblioteca Nationala), EUR 25 million to the National Theater, while the rest will go on the restoration of buildings that are historical monuments, serving as headquarters to institutions of the Ministry of Culture. The online tour that the Romanian Peasant Museum is devising will make available areas of the museum which, due to this work, will no longer be accessible to the public.

Moreover, other parts of the museum are set for reorganization. Some previously vacant spaces will be put to use as locations for temporary exhibits, public workshops or conference rooms. The Horia Bernea studio will also go through a process of modernization, and is planned to be turned into a cinema hall, but will play host to other events too, “in order to meet the demands of our exigent public”, says Nitulescu.

The Romanian Peasant Museum is also enjoyed by foreign tourists and expats, mostly due to the location’s openness towards services in foreign languages – the tour of the museum is available in English, French and German. What’s more, the movies showcased at the New Cinema of the Romanian Director have English subtitles. As proof of the foreign community’s dedication to the museum’s projects, the president of the Friends of the Romanian Peasant Museum Association is the former deputy in chief of the European Commission in Bucharest, Giorgio Ficarelli. When it comes to foreign investments and partnerships, Nitulescu said that the museum was currently seeking collaborations with firms that produce materials and equipment that it needs.

Although the Romanian Peasant Museum gets by on a very small budget for promotional purposes, which at the start of 2010 amounted to RON 20,000 (around EUR 4,600), a sum that was blocked in May by the Romanian government, the institution manages to make itself visible through low-budget means of promotion. Volunteering is strongly encouraged, as well as the use of new media for the communication of the museum’s initiatives, through Facebook, Twitter, blogs and a constantly updated website. However, Nitulescu hopes that in 2011 the promotional budget will be tripled, although the true needs of the museum are ten times the sum allocated in 2010.

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