Urban Memory: Museums Of The Romanian Capital

1st row: National History Museum, Old Court Museum, Archeology Museum (detail), National Museum of Art2nd row: Collections Museum, Zambaccian Museum, Theodor Aman Museum, Gh. Tattarescu Museum
3rd row: Storck Museum, Romanian Peasant Museum, Astronomical Observatory (detail), Museum of Romanian Literature
4th row: Geology Museum, Theodor Pallady Museum, George Enescu Museum, National Opera.

Situated at 12 Victoriei Road, the National History Museum holds the most valuable collections of all history museums in Bucharest. It is located in a vast building—The Post Office Palace—erected between 1894 and 1900 on the remains of Constantin Brâncoveanu’s inn and designed by the architect Alexandru Săvulescu. The edifice, with its remarkable façade adorned with ten Doric columns, switched uses in 1970, when it was renovated and fitted to accommodate the collections of the History Museum. Inaugurated on May 8, 1972, the museum holds over 600,000 artefacts, grouped thematically into departments and historical periods such as Antiquity, Medieval, Modern and Contemporary history, the Coin Collection, the Treasury and the Lapidarium. Of all the museum’s valuable exhibits, the Treasury contains most highlights. Among them are the burnt clay statuettes discovered at Cernavodă of “The Thinker” and “Sitting Women” (4th millennium B.C., the Hamangia culture), the Orghidan cameo (3rd century), “The Hoard of Pietroasa” (400 A.D). and the golden helmet unearthed at Poiana Coţofeneşti. The Treasury also holds the crowns of the Romanian monarchs, the sceptre of King Ferdinand I and personal items of ruler Alexandru Ioan Cuza or the Gospel bound in gold, dating from Constantin Brâncoveanu’s time. The Coin Collection contains priceless items, which outline coin history in Romania, starting with the first coins minted in Histria (408 B.C.) and with Dacian and Roman coins, and continuing with Byzantine, medieval or modern coins. The main attraction of the Lapidarium is a copy of Trajan’s Column from Rome, in addition to Latin inscriptions, headstones, statues, altars, Roman and Byzantine capitals, religious dedications, heraldic emblems etc.Whereas the National History Museum covers the political aspects of the country’s history, the military ones are presented in the National Military Museum, located at 125-127 Mircea Vulcănescu Street. The institution was inaugurated on December 18, 1923, in the former Palace of Arts, built in the Carol Park in 1906 and designed by the architects Ştefan Burcuş and Victor Ştefănescu. The museum collection took shape between 1890 and 1900 and was first open to the public in 1906, during the Jubilee Exhibition that was held in the Carol Park. In the same year, a decision was made to set up a military museum and in 1914, a permanent military department was opened in the National Museum. Five years later, Major Traian Popa Lisseanu moved the collection to the Palace of Arts. The Military Museum was finally established through King Ferdinand I’s 1923 decree. It underwent multiple internal reorganizations (in 1937, 1957 and 1986) and changed location several times. The large building erected in 1898 used to accommodate the 21st Regiment of Gendarmes. In 1986-1987, it was restored and became the final premises of the National Military Museum. In its current form, the collection covers chronologically Romanian military history and consists of weaponry, uniforms, medals, flags and banners, paintings, sculptures, harnesses, artillery items, planes, armoured vehicles etc.The Cotroceni Museum (located at 1 Geniului Boulevard) housed by the homonymous palace was inaugurated as a national museum on June 30, 1990. The medieval part of the collection includes the palace cellars (with outstanding brick vaults), the kitchen and the monks’ cells, the tombs of the Cantacuzino family, as well as the portal, columns, window and door frames and capitals of the inner church of the palace (demolished in 1984).Several reception rooms and the suites of King Ferdinand and Queen Mary, and of other members of the royal family have been preserved in the palace as close to their original state as possible. Special attention was paid to the richly and eclectically decorated interiors and to the few remaining original articles of furniture and objects that had belonged to the Romanian monarchs. To be noted here are the Round Table of King Arthur and the 24 gilded wood chairs. Any Romanian history enthusiast who comes to the Cotroceni Museum will have the opportunity to behold the magnificent remnants of the period that saw the birth of modern Romania. The city of Bucharest has its own special museum, founded in 1921 and established ten years later in the Moruzi Residence on Victoriei Road (eventually demolished). In 1956, the museum was moved to the Şuţu Palace, at 2 I. C. Brătianu Boulevard, at the very heart of the capital. The new premises of the City Museum were inaugurated on January 23, 1959 and its collections were created through archaeological research, donations and acquisitions. The rooms of the Şuţu Palace hold valuable archaeological exhibits, medals, coins, seals, documents, maps, engravings, photographs, books, weapons, articles of furniture, ancient costumes and paintings that render the history of Bucharest from its earliest times to the present. The art department of the museum, located at 3 Dr. Mihail Obedenaru Street, was founded in 1933 under the name of the City Gallery. The edifice belonged to Barbu Slătineanu, who had preserved and considerably enlarged the art collection of his father, Prof. Dr. Alexandru Slătineanu. The collection was partially donated to the Romanian state (terminally ill of diabetes, Barbu Slătineanu died in 1959, during Secret Police questioning) and was disassembled after the 1977 earthquake, just like all the other private collections. The numerous large private donations brought together important works of art, such as paintings by Grigorescu, Andreescu, Luchian, Tonitza, Pallady, Steriadi, Ghiaţă or Baba and sculptures by Dimitrie Paciurea, Oscar Han, Ion Jalea, Miliţa Petraşcu or Ion Irimescu.The Curtea Veche Museum, located at 25-31 Franceză Street, represents yet another department of the City Museum. The collection housed in the large cellars of the Royal Palace was inaugurated on April 27, 1972 in the old Royal Court of Bucharest. The items exhibited were unearthed during the archaeological excavations of 1953-1959 and 1967-1972, and include fragments of the enclosing wall, pottery, window and doorframes, stone columns, weaving loom weights and stone balls.Another department of the City Museum is the Coin Collection (26 Henri Coandă Street). It was inaugurated on June 14, 1956 in the house of the esteemed numismatist and collector Dr. George Severeanu (1879-1939), the first manager of the History Museum. The collection is extremely large (over 30,000 coins) and valuable. It contains ancient Dacian, Roman or Greek coins from Histria, Tomis and Callatis, as well as modern and contemporary Romanian coins and banknotes. The Maria and Dr. George Severeanu Collection of Antiquities is located in the same building. Enthusiastic collectors of antiquities and art objects, the Severeanus gathered over an entire lifetime more than 11,500 artefacts. Among these are 4,000 coins from hoards found at Epureni, Arad, Aiud and Drobeta Turnu-Severin, as well as bronze recipients, Rhodes amphorae, Tanagra statuettes or bronze figurines. These items, in addition to paintings by Theodor Aman, Anton Chladek and Artur Verona, were successively donated (in 1939, 1949 and 1956) to the City History Museum, as it was called back then.The Archaeological Institute of the Romanian Academy holds a significant collection of antiquities. The Institute bears the name of the renowned historian and archaeologist Vasile Pârvan and is situated at 11 Henri Coandă Street, in the former house of Colonel Macca. It was born in 1956, out of the National Museum of Antiquities, whose collections were partly taken over in 1970 by the National History Museum.There are numerous noteworthy museums, exhibitions or art collections in Bucharest, which are of immeasurable artistic value and thus engender the admiration of countless visitors.Of all the museums in the capital city, the National Art Museum, located in the former Royal Palace at 49-53 Victoriei Road, holds the most valuable items. It was established in 1948, when it took over the collections of renowned interwar museums (The State Art Collection, the Toma Stelian Museum, the Kalinderu Museum or the Simu Museum). The National Art Museum has several departments such as the National Gallery, the World Art Gallery and the Drawings and Engravings Collections. The National Gallery was inaugurated in 1950 and after being restructured in 2001-2002, it was renamed the Medieval and Modern Romanian Art Gallery. It holds Romanian art from the Middle Ages (the 14th-18th centuries) and the modern period (the 19th-20th centuries), including old painting on wood and glass, icons, embroidery, silverwork, sculptures and modern painting. The Gallery displays works by all the masters of Romanian painting, from Ion Negulici, Barbu Iscovescu, Constantin D. Rosenthal, Constantin Lecca, Carol Popp de Szathmary or Mişu Popp to Gheorghe Tattarescu, Theodor Aman, Sava Henţia, G. D. Mirea or Ion Andreescu, Nicolae Grigorescu, Ştefan Luchian, Gheorghe Petraşcu, Nicolae Tonitza, Theodor Pallady, Francisc Şirato, Camil Ressu, Iosif Iser and Jean Steriadi. Also exhibited are sculptures by Karl Storck, Ion Georgescu, Dimitrie Paciurea, Cornel Medrea, Ion Jalea, Oscar Han or the outstanding Constantin Brâncuşi.The World Art Gallery, opened in 1951 and reorganised in 2000, holds mainly King Carol I’s paintings, as well as the collection of decorative and oriental art of the Royal Palace, or items from private collections. Its highlights include paintings by foremost European masters such as Antonello da Messina, Tiziano Vecellio, Paolo Veronese, Tintoretto, Caravaggio, El Greco, Francisco Zurbaran, Velasquez, Esteban Murillo, Jan van Eyck, Pieter Breughel the Younger, Rubens, Rembrandt, Jacques Louis David, Théodore Géricault, Courbet and many more. Through its rich and diverse collections (the 40,000 drawings and engravings of the Graphic Arts department, the 3,000 artefacts of the oriental art collection and the 7,000 decorative art objects), the prestigious National Art Museum of Romania is one of Bucharest’s main attractions.The Art Collections Museum at 111 Victoriei Road is another major department of the National Art Museum, which best completes the visitor’s view upon Romanian and World Art. Open on August 21, 1978 in the former Romanit Palace, the museum holds over 12,000 artefacts of public interest, from 34 private collections. The most important collections belonged to Alexandra and Barbu Slătineanu (pottery, household items, articles of furniture, engravings by Dürer, Rembrandt or Delacroix, paintings by Grigorescu, Negulici or Ghiaţă and a drawing by Van Gogh), George Oprescu (paintings by Courbet, Gericault, Grigorescu, Andreescu, Pallady, Ciucurencu, oriental carpets, stained glass windows, articles of furniture, sculptures by Brâncuşi or Medrea, icons). Also on display are the collections of Elena and Dr. Iosif N. Dona (paintings by Grigorescu, Luchian, Petraşcu, Tonitza, Steriadi, Pallady or Ţuculescu), Elisabeta and Moise Weinberg (500 artefacts, 200 of which are paintings by Iosif Iser), Garabet Avakian (paintings, carpets, Persian pottery, weaponry, statuettes), Iosif Iser (paintings and private belongings), Marcu Beza (oriental artefacts and proof of the relations between Romania and the Near East), Elena and Anastase Simu (a considerable collection of Romanian paintings) etc.Another department of the National Art Museum of Romania is the Krikor H. Zambaccian Museum, established in 1947 by the rich Armenian art collector and opened in 1957. The building located at 21A Zambaccian Museum Street was specifically designed as a museum by the architect C. D. Galin. Krikor Zambaccian (1889-1962) has built a considerable art collection throughout his lifetime (165 paintings, 71 drawings, 40 sculptures). The museum exhibits works by well-known Romanian painters such as Nicolae Grigorescu, Ion Andreescu, Ştefan Luchian, Theodor Pallady, Gheorghe Petraşcu, Nicolae Tonitza, Ion Ţuculescu and Al. Ciucurencu, as well as by European ones such as Renoir, Matisse, Cezanne, Pissarro, Sisley, Delacroix or Picasso. In 1978, the museum was closed and the Zambaccian collection was moved to the Art Collections Museum. In 1996, it returned however and was reopened in its initial form. Yet another art institution reopened after 1990 is the Theodor Pallady Museum. It displays the large art collection of Serafina and Gheorghe Răut, consisting mainly of Pallady’s paintings, drawings and engravings (more than 800), along with paintings by French artists whom Pallady had known or had been influenced by (Matisse was a good friend of his). The Răut collection was first presented to the public in 1971 at the Art Collections Museum. In 1994, it returned to the Iacob Melic house on 22 Spătarului Street, whose garden also holds the statue of Pallady made by the sculptor Gheorghe Anghel.The Beatrice and Hrandt Avakian Collection is also a subsidiary of National Art Museum. It was opened after 1990 in the beautiful villa of Adina Woroniecka situated at 19 Ion Mincu Street. The art collection of the siblings Beatrice and Hrandt Avakian was donated to the state in 1971 and was kept at the Art Collections Museum until 1990. It contains over 1,000 artefacts of extreme diversity, ranging from paintings, carpets, tapestry, cashmere weavings, Persian pottery, oriental sculptures and Japanese vessels to ivory statuettes, crystal work, icons, gold and silver objects and articles of furniture. They are quite valuable and most of them date from the 16th-19th centuries. At present, the Woroniecki house has been reclaimed by its rightful owners and the collection has been moved to the National Art Museum.Several memorial museums dedicated to Romanian painters and sculptors are to be noted here due to their valuable collections. The Theodor Aman Museum, located at 8 C. A. Rosetti Street, was inaugurated in 1908 in the painter’s residence, which was erected in 1869 in Italian neoclassic style, after Aman’s own plans. The studio holds some of the paintings, drawings, watercolours, engravings and sculptures made by Theodor Aman (1831-1891). A contemporary of his, Gheorghe Tattarescu (1820-1894) is honoured by a homonymous museum, opened to the public in June 1951, in the painter’s house situated at 7 Domniţa Anastasia Street. The edifice was built at the beginning of the 19th century, but was massively transformed between 1855 and 1858 by Tattarescu, who redecorated it and painted its interiors. The Gheorghe Tattarescu Memorial Museum impresses its visitors not only through its architectural ornaments, but also through the paintings, drawings, documents, personal belongings and articles of furniture it holds. All these recreate the living and creative environment of the renowned painter who founded of the School of Fine Arts of Bucharest and decorated several town churches.Opened on October 21, 1951, the Frederic Storck and Cecilia Cuţescu Storck Art Museum displays 400 paintings and sculptures. It is located at 16 Vasile Alecsandri Street, in the house that the artists build in 1913 in the Anglo-Norman style (based on architect Al. Clavel’s plans). The edifice used to have beautiful stained glass windows and murals by Cecilia Cuţescu Storck (1879-1969). The museum holds sculptures, studies and drawings belonging to all the Storck family sculptors: Karl Storck (1826-1887), Carol Storck (1854-1926) and Frederic Storck (1872-1942). At the same time, the furniture and the collection of old pottery and Romanian painting perfectly render the bygone atmosphere of this house of artists. Another memorial museum dedicated to a Romanian sculptor is that of Corneliu Medrea (1888-1964). Inaugurated in 1948 in the Mogoşoaia Palace, it was the first museum dedicated entirely to sculpture. It initially exhibited all the work done by Corneliu Medrea until that point (130 sculptures and 40 drawings), which the artist himself had donated to the state. The Medrea collection was moved in 1957 to the house at 16 General Budişteanu Street, which had belonged to the regent Gheorghe Buzdugan and it currently holds 350 sculptures and drawings made by the sculptor.Extremely valuable art objects are displayed in the Engineer D. Minovici Ancient Western Art, established in 1945 in the Minovici residence located at 3 Dr. Nicolae Minovici Street. The Ligia and Dumitru Minovici couple donated their house and art collection to the Romanian Academy in three different stages: 1945, 1957 and 1974. The edifice was erected in 1940-1941 in the Tudor style, after the designs of architect E. Canella and engineer D. Minovici. Its interior perfectly accommodated the exhibits: furniture, tapestry, carpets, Gobelins, 16th-17th century stained glass windows, engravings, paintings, walnut library shelves made in Austria and rare books. No art enthusiast should fail to visit the Engineer D. Minovici Museum and the exquisite English park that surrounds it.Another member of the above-mentioned family founded a second museum in the proximity of the Ancient Western Art one. The Dr. Nicolae Minovici Folk Art Museum is located at 1 Nicolae Minovici Street, in the beautiful villa built in 1905 in Romanian style by the architect Cristofi Cerchez for Doctor Nicolae Minovici (1868-1941). The museum was created in 1936, when Nicolae Minovici donated his folk art collection consisting of costumes, carpets, pottery, furniture, icons, household items, musical instruments, painted eggs etc. The best image of traditional Romanian culture and civilisation can be shaped through a visit at the Dimitrie Gusti National Village Museum. Located at 28-30 Kiseleff Road in a 17 ha park, it stretches between the Herăstrău Lake and the same Kiseleff Road. The Village Museum was founded in 1936 by the renowned sociologist Dimitrie Gusti (1880-1955). Between 1925 and 1935, the students and professors of the Sociology Department of Bucharest University (Henri Stahl, Traian Herseni, Mircea Vulcănescu, Anton Golopenţia), led by Gusti, researched and documented rural households and the traditional living throughout the entire country and also acquired the first artefacts that would be exhibited in the future national ethnographic museum. The first peasant houses were erected in 1935-1936 in the park by the Herăstrău Lake, according to plans drawn by Victor Ion Popa and Mac Constantinescu. The collections of the Village Museum were continuously enlarged through important acquisitions, so that the institution currently holds 290 authentic rural buildings, brought from all regions of Romania: Transylvania, Banat, Walachia, Dobrudja and Moldavia. It exhibits farms, houses, rustic installations (mills, wine presses), village workshops and churches, as well as many valuable folk art objects (52,000 items including costumes, pottery, wood and glass icons, carpets etc.). Some of the dwellings, farms and churches are extremely old, dating from the 18th and 19th centuries. Among them are the farms of Moişeni (1780), Berbeşti (1775), Ieud from the Maramureş District (1890), Sălciua de Jos from the Alba District (1815), Zăpodeni from the Vaslui District (the oldest building, from 1650), Straja from the Suceava District (1760), Sârbova from the Timiş District (1821), the Antonie Mogoş house from Ceauru, Gorj District (1875), the Bârzoteni House, from the present-day Horezu in the Vâlcea District (1812) or the wooden churches from Dragomireşti, in the Maramureş District (1722), Răpciuni, Moldavia (1773) and Turea, Transylvania.Out of the enthusiasm of the researchers, an “odd museum, made of parts from villages from all over the country” was born, according to Dimitrie Gusti, a collection that forms a unitary, yet diverse picture of rural Romanian culture and civilisation. Unfortunately, on February 20, 2002 a terrible fire destroyed nineteen extremely valuable buildings from Dobrudja in a matter of hours. Thanks to the efforts of museographers, architects, restorers and peasant artisans, they were however reconstructed by the end of the same year. Another ethnographic museum is that of the Romanian Peasant, located in a vast building at 3 Kiseleff Road. The monumental edifice was erected between 1912 and 1939 and is truly a masterpiece of Neo-Romanian style designed by architect Nicolae Ghika-Budeşti. The notorious men of culture and politicians Titu Maiorescu and Spiru Haret were the first to come up with the idea of such a museum. The first textile art department in the country, which was part of the National Antiquities Museum, was created in 1875 on Maiorescu’s initiative.Three decades later, in 1906, Spiru Haret developed Maiorescu’s idea into the first National Decorative and Industrial Art and Ethnography Museum, which was opened on October 1, 1906 in the building of the former Minting House. The first manager was the art historian and leading museographer Alexandru Tzigara-Samurcaş, who in 1912 changed the name of the institution into the National Art Museum. As the need arose for an imposing location for the Museum, the Ministry of Education and Cults organised in 1911 a tender which was won by the architect Nicolae Ghika-Budeşti. The new edifice held the museum collections that recreated the life and the civilization of the Romanian peasant, for 22 years, between 1931 and 1953. The ethnography collections were moved from 1953 to 1978 to the Ştirbey Palace on Victoriei Road and were subsequently taken over by the Village Museum. It was only after 1990 that the artefacts returned in the building on Kiseleff Road, which had housed the Museum of History of the Romanian Communist Party between 1955 and 1990. With a new status and name, the institution became the National Museum of the Romanian Peasant and was reorganised by the late manager Horia Bernea. The Museum of the Romanian Peasant holds diverse and valuable exhibits, which cover all aspects of the rural life. Its departments include costumes, textiles, pottery, furniture, icons, household items, carpets, cult objects, photographs, drawings, engravings, ethnographical woodcuts etc.Technical development in Romania is covered by two museums in Bucharest: Prof. Engineer Dimitrie Leonida Technical Museum and the Museum of the Romanian Railroads.The Technical Museum is located in the Carol Park, at 2 General Candiano Popescu Street, in an edifice built in 1906 for the Jubilee Exhibition celebrating King Charles I’s 40 years of reign. The museum was founded in 1909 by the energetics professor Dimitrie Leonida (1883-1965). An enthusiast of the history of science and engineering, he collected many objects, books and photographs that would later be displayed in the museum. The institution underwent several restructuring stages. Thus in 1951, it became the State Museum of Electrification. In 1954 for its official opening, it was once more reorganised, then again in 1972 and 1994. The Technical Museum covers 4,500 sq. metres (with 1,000 sq. m of open space) and its collections of more than 6,500 de items are grouped thematically into mechanics, electricity, physics, chemistry, mining, energetics, electrical engineering, oil industry, hydraulics, telecommunications, navigation, aviation, engines and machines, typography, cinematography etc. The museum has as well a significant library (25,000 books) and a collection of 10,000 photographs. It also houses the Henri Coandă Collection, which includes some inventions and models made by the renowned Romanian inventor.The second technical museum of Bucharest is the Museum of the Romanian Railroads, situated at 193B Griviţei Road, near the North Railway Station. The idea of such a museum belonged to engineer Theodor Balş, who also made efforts for the preservation of antique locomotives. It was opened on June 10, 1939, in the arenas of the Giuleşti Stadium. After the air raids of 1944, the collections were partly damaged and were moved to a new building, inaugurated in 1953. The highlights of the museum include the locomotive and wagons of the very first train in Romania, which ran for the first time on the Bucharest-Giurgiu line in October 1869, or the first locomotive made at Reşiţa in 1873. The museum covers the evolution of the Romanian railroads and notorious railroad bridge engineers, such as Anghel Saligny (1854-1925) and Elie Radu (1853-1931).Another museum that exhibits technical items is the National Museum of the Firemen, located at 33 Ferdinand I Boulevard. It was opened in 1963 in the Fire Watchtower, erected in 1892 after the plans of architect George Mandrea. Its circular terrace situated at a 50m height offers a splendid view of Bucharest. There are over 40,000 objects displayed chronologically on its six levels, such as equipment and trucks for fire fighting, banners, military uniforms, documents, photographs, maps and weapons documenting the history of Bucharest firemen and fires.In addition to its technical museums, Bucharest also has several significant scientific museums. A major one is the Grigore Antipa National Museum of Natural History, located at 1 Kiseleff Road. It was Lord Mihalache Ghica who made the first efforts for establishing such an institution and as early as 1831, he supported the creation of several collections at the St. Sava College. Three years later, in 1834, his brothers Alexandru Ghica, ruler of Walachia (1834-1842) and Grigore Ghica, former ruler (1822-1828) founded the National Museum of Natural History and Antiquities, subordinate to the St. Sava College. The collections were moved in 1867 in the building of the newly established Bucharest University. The museum was run excellently for 25 years by Professor Gregoriu Stephănescu and was renamed the National History Museum. On May 24, 1908, it was eventually given a new location, built especially for it between 1904-1908 by the architect Grigore Cerchez and engineer Mihail Roco, who also led the construction, guided by Professor Grigore Antipa. The frontispiece designed by Grigore Cerchez included an allegory of Science, sculpted by Dimitrie Paciurea after an idea by Spiru Haret. The sculpture mounted in 1906 was deteriorated by the 1940 earthquake. The scientist Grigore Antipa (1867-1944) was the manager of the museum for half a century (1893-1944) and he was also responsible with reorganising the institution. The collections are grouped into palaeontology, oceanography, zoology, ecology and anthropology, and they closely follow the evolution of Earth and living creatures. The main attraction of the museum is the skeleton of a six-million-year old giant elephant (Deinotherium Gigantissimum), the only one ever to be found. It was discovered by Professor Gregoriu Stephănescu in 1893, in the bed of the Bârlad River, in the Mânzaţi village, the Vaslui District.In the close vicinity of the National Museum of Natural History, at 2 Kiseleff Road, lies the Geology Museum. It is located in an impressive edifice built in Neo-Romanian style between 1906 and 1908 by architect Victor Ştefănescu. The institution was established at the same time with the Geology Institute, through a decree from February 21, 1906. It would be managed for 24 years (1906-1930) by Professor Ludovic Mrazec (1867-1944). The mineralogy collection was open to the public in 1906, but it was only in April 1990 that the Geology Museum was officially inaugurated. Its collections covering all three levels of the building were restructured into mineralogy, petrography, internal and external Earth dynamics, palaeontology, palaeobotany, stratigraphy, hydrogeology, tectonics, minerals etc. The busts of the two great managers of the Institute, George Munteanu-Murgoci (made by sculptor F. Storck) and Ludovic Mrazec guard the Museum building.There are two additional scientific museums in Bucharest, i.e. the Vasile Urseanu Astronomical Observatory and the Botanical Museum. The Astronomical Observatory was established in 1909 by Admiral Vasile Urseanu (1848-1926) in his own home at 21 Lascăr Catargiu Boulevard, which had been built by the architect Ion D. Berindey in 1908-1909. An astronomy enthusiast and the president of the Astronomical Society, Admiral Urseanu collected many items linked to astronomy. His wife, Ioana Puricescu, set up an art collection in their house, which she then donated in 1933 to the Town Council. As of 1956, the edifice houses an Astronomical Observatory and a museum covering the evolution of astronomy in Romania. On display are the initial telescope of Admiral Urseanu, books, manuscripts, personal belongings, ancient sundials and astronomical instruments. Observations of astronomical phenomena and the sky can be made there as well.The Botanical Museum is situated in the Botanical Garden (32 Cotroceni Road), in the beautiful Neo-Romanian house of Alexandru Saint Georges (1886-1954), which had also accommodated the art collection that its owner eventually donated to the municipality. The first botanical museum was open in the centre of Bucharest in 1882, by Professor Dimitrie Brândză (1844-1895), the founder of the Botanical Garden and Institute. Built in 1892 by architect Nicolae Gabrielescu, the Botanical Institute housed the Museum and Herbarium, which Dimitrie Brândză had organised. Unfortunately, they were destroyed on April 4, 1944 by the Allies’ air raids. The Botanical Museum was re-established in 1961 in the same Institute, only to be reorganised and moved in 1977-1978 in the Al. Saint Georges house. It exhibits over 15,000 plants, cacti, fungi, fruit, seed etc., as well as several botanical paintings made by Angiolina Santocono, while the Herbarium has 500,000 plants on display.Bucharest has always honoured the writers and poets that evoked it in their works. The memorial houses with which the city is strewn and the Romanian Literature Museum to which they are subservient well deserve a visit. Established in 1957 by the literary critic Dumitru Panaitescu-Perpessicius, who was also its first manager, the Romanian Literature Museum was initially located in the Toma Stelian house, at 10 Kiseleff Road. In 1971, the collection was moved to the Scarlat Kretzulescu residence on 12 Dacia Boulevard. The valuable exhibits on display (300,000 items) are structured in 250 different collections and include manuscripts, documents, letters, photographs, paintings and personal belongings of writers. The Romanian Literature Museum covers the history of Romanian literature and the life of great writers and poets such as Eminescu, Sadoveanu, Alecsandri, Rebreanu, Blaga, Coşbuc, Arghezi, Macedonski or Nichita Stănescu, whose manuscripts and first editions represent the highlights of the institution. [...]Other noteworthy Bucharest museums are those dedicated to Romanian music. The most important institution of this kind is the George Enescu Museum, inaugurated in 1956 in the George Grigore Cantacuzino Palace situated at 141 Victoriei Road. The edifice was built between 1901 and 1903, according to the designs of architect Ion D. Berindey. Starting with 1913, it belonged to Mihail G. Cantacuzino and his wife, Maria Rosetti-Tescanu, who remarried the great composer George Enescu in 1937, after the death of her husband. The couple actually lived in the small villa behind the palace. The Romanian Composers’ Union took over the palace in 1955, which had housed the Institute of Romanian-Soviet Studies since 1947. In the same year, the Union held a commemorative exhibition dedicated to George Enescu (1881-1955). In 1956, the palace was transformed into a museum honouring this esteemed Romanian composer, director, violin and piano player. His extraordinary life and work are presented through his personal belongings, manuscripts, letters, musical scores, his violins and piano, the library, paintings, articles of furniture and photographs.The Romanian Opera, located in the remarkable edifice at 70-72 Mihail Kogălniceanu Boulevard, erected in 1953-1954 by the architect Octav Doicescu, also holds an exhibition that covers the history of Romanian opera shows from the 18th century to the present day. The museum, inaugurated on December 16, 1964, is situated at the second floor of the Opera and its collections include posters, programmes, photographs, costumes and busts of singers and composers.  from Bucharest. In Search of Little Paris, Tritonic Publishing House, Bucharest, 2003 Translated by Brânduşa Ciugudean

by Narcis Dorin Ion