Sep 26

The State Aviation Museum (Muzeul National de Aviatie)

Museums, as institutions, have been developed with a single purpose in mind, that of keeping alive the history of a state, in particular, and of the world, in general. But there are so many different branches worth exploring and so many items, evidence and documentation to be mapped according to the time and place these were discovered in that it is physically imposible for one edifice to comprise them all, not to mention that their diversity makes them a bit too complicated to organize. As a consequence, the institutions have been categorized according to their purpose.

While the name museum is usually connected to history, archeology, art,  and the like, there is one sector which should not be overlooked. Aviation has played an important part in our evolution and the different models of aircrafts which exist at present or have existed in the past are exemples of the steps we have taken in our development from an engineering point of view.

Because of the high importance that this branch carries, it has been agreed upon that a museum should be dedicated to aviation, and thus the State Aviation Museum was born. The institution was opened for the public back in 2003 in Kiev and ever since, it has managed to attract an impressive number of visitors. It is no surprise that the Aviation Museum has become one of the most significant tourist attractions located in Kiev.

And the reason for which this happened is obvious if we are to take into account that it is one of the most progressive museum, from a mechanical point of view, located in Ukraine. Not only are the items on display captivating, but these are also interactive.

The exhibitions are organized so as to represent specific timeframes in the history of aviation. While the aircrafts themselves are the main attractions in the museum, there are other items connected to this industry which have found their way into the exhibits. But the items are not arranged solely based on their appearance, but also on the category in which they fit. For example, there is a collection dedicated to the MiG Jet aircraft, while others comprise the aircrafts which have been used in specific warfares.

There is one model of aircraft which plays an important role in the museum and which is the object of admiration for visitors. The Tu-22M, the missile carrier, represents the ‘jewel’ of the Ukrainian Air Force, and there is an entire section dedicated to this specific collection and to the variable models which have been developed under the same name.

Among the items on diplay one is presented with are helicopters, attack aircrafts, fighter planes and ship based aircrafts. In fact, the State Aviation Museum is the largest institutions of its kind to have on display replicas of the Soviet technological innovations.

But the aircrafts are not there only to be gazed upon from the distance. The administration of the museum has developed interactive sessions in which visitors can actually go aboard and can even sit in the pilot’s chair and touch the control panel. It is indeed a one-of-a-kind experience as you no longer sit in the passanger’s seat, in the back, but you can actually see where the ‘action’ takes place. Not to mention that you will see firsthandedly the interior of battle planes and helicopters. Going on board of the planes that have fought in important battles in is not the same as actually participating in that specific war but it is the closest one will ever get to experience a time long gone.

The museum is open throughout the year, but there are some variation in the schedule according to the time of the year in which you visit it. Thus, from April until October, the Aviation Museum opens its doors from 10:00 until 19:00, while the remaining timeframe (from October until the end of February) the visiting hours are 10:00-16:00.

Sep 20

Tretyakov Gallery (Galeria de Arta Tretyakov)

Russia is a ‘reservoir’ of culture and art and the multiple galleries and museums that spread throughout its territory are a clear example of this. The State Tretyakov Gallery is an art gallery located in Moscow which is renowned for the exquisite exhibitions found within its walls.

The gallery officially came into being at the beginning of the 20thcentury, but its history goes back half a century. In 1856, Pavel Mikhailovich Tretyakov, a Russian merchant, had begun collecting works of art signed by Russian artists that lived in his time. His goal was to acquire paintings, drawings and sculptures which would in time evolve to encompass a considerable number of works that represent the Russian national art in its different forms. The purpose was to put the basis of a museum.

Between 1856 and 1892, he dedicated his time to finding exquisite works of art, his collection reaching more or less 2.000 pieces at the end of this term – the collection comprised 1,362 paintings, 526 drawings and 9 sculptures.

It is no wonder that everyone was taken aback when faced with such an impressive assortment of works of art. Thus the construction of the Tretyakov Gallery was put into motion. The edifice to house the collection had to be worthy of the privilege it was bestowed on it. The façade of the structure was artistically created by Victor Vasnetsov, the painter who conferred a unique Russian fairy-tale architectural design to the gallery.

The construction work took only two years to be completed (from 1902 to 1904) and the site chosen for the gallery was near the Moscow Kremlin (to the south). But the gallery did not remained unchanged, on the contrary, expansion was underway and it can actually be said that in the 20th century the gallery experienced a ‘boom,’ having expended to encompass a number of adjacent buildings. Among these edifices was the Church of St. Nicholas in Tolmachi which dated from the 17th century.

At present, the Tretyakov Gallery is home to more than 130.000 pieces of art, one more valuable than the next. Just to name a few, ‘Trinity’ by Andrei Rublev, ‘Composition VII’ by Wassaily Kandinsky and ‘Black Square’ by Kazimir Malevich can be admired at the gallery.

Painting by Vasily Perov –

But the Tretyakov Gallery is not solely a place where artistic pieces are on display. The institution also organizes various events which are in a way connected to culture. For instance in 2012, the gallery was the site of the famous FIDE World Chess Championship which was disputed among Vishwanathan Anand and Boris Gelfand. There might be some voices to disagree with this type of events taking place inside the gallery but there has to be underlined that culture comprises several segments and chess might just be one of them. It is in effect a form of art, especially when discussing it at the level at which it is played in the championship. Not to mention that the event attracted two types of audiences, those interested in fine arts and chess lovers.

1985 marks an important year in the history of the Tretyakov Gallery this being the moment when the gallery merged with a gallery of contemporary art, but solely from an administrative point of view. The latter gallery still kept the position it occupied to the south of the Crimean Bridge. This addition was quite important for the museum as it consisted of an important collection of sculptures which were representative for Socialist Realism.

In close proximity of the gallery of contemporary art tourists can admire sculptures which have been ‘exiled,’ so to speak. The statuettes are representative for the Soviet Union and when the URSS had fallen, every reminder of that time had to be erased. But the sculptures were not destroyed; they were relocated in this garden which comprised the remnants of a fallen regime.

Those who visit the State Tretyakov Gallery will not regret their decision because they will have the chance to admire unique works of art, some of them having been created more than a century ago.

Sep 11

The National Opera of Ukraine (Teatrul de Opera)

Visiting another country is a great way to learn more about the cultural and historical development of that specific location. Tourists who go abroad are generally interested in visiting as many places as possible and this definitely includes cultural institutions where the traditions, principles and customs of a state are revealed.

The National Opera should definitely be included within your tour around Kiev if this is the destination of your vacation. The history behind the Opera in Kiev is complex and it is the edifice where the artistic life of Ukraine has been developed.

The Opera House dates from the 19th century (1867) when the Kiev Opera Group was formed.  The opera came into being due to the efforts of Ferdinand Berger who had managed to bring to Ukraine several talented artists who were to perform at the Opera House. Thus, singers, musicians and conductors took the stage of the City Theatre, which used to house the National Opera at the time of its formation. This edifice dated from the mid-19th century and was constructed after the plans developed by the architect I. Shtrom. While the name attached to the institution was that of City Theatre, it was generally referred to as the Russian Opera.

Initially, the performances organized were of Russian origin (e.g. Ruslan and Lyudmila by Mikhail Glinka) and of European nature (e.g. The Marriage of Figaro by Mozart or Verdi’s opera pieces).

Near the turn of the century (1896), the edifice which housed the National Opera was consumed by flames. The fire burst from a candle which was left burning after the Eugene Onegin performance. Nothing was left behind except ash and smoke. Everything from musical partitions to costumes and stage props was destroyed. In the coming years after the fire, the Kiev Opera Group held its performances on various stages without actually having a place of its own.

In was in the 20th century that the City Council decided to construct a new edifice which was to serve the purpose of housing the National Opera. A competition which exceeded the national boundaries was organized in order to find the architect to sketch the new edifice. The project came to architect Victor Schröter who had incorporated various architectural trends in the design of the Opera House. Thus, the façade of the building was created according to the Neo-Renaissance architectural design, whereas the interior bore a more classical look – this style was named Viennese Modern. While the entire edifice is beautifully adorned with elements pertaining to various architectural trends, the most notable element is the stage of the Opera House which was the largest stage located on the European continent and which was constructed while following the most modern standards in engineering.

Throughout its existence, the Opera House has attracted a number of extremely talented performers. The institution began to flourish in the early years of the 20th century, with famous singers such as O. Petlyash, P. Tsecevich, K. Voronets, M. Medvedev coming to perform for the population of Kiev. But not solely Russian and Ukrainian singers and musicians came to the National Opera, but also Westerners.

After WWI, Kiev witnessed a massive growth and as a consequence the Opera became known throughout Soviet Union, but its fame grew even outside the USSR, being recognized throughout the world for the cultural value it bore.

During WWII, the Opera House was removed from Kiev only to return to the capital city in 1944.

Between 1983 and 1988, the edifice underwent a massive renovation work with the purpose of enlarging the Opera House so as to include many more rehearsal and dressing rooms. Other changes included widening the orchestra pit and broadening the stage. The new building exceeded the dimensions of the former by 20.000 square meters, its collosal size being the in accordance with the importance and value of the cultural institution.

Aug 29

The Hungarian State Opera House (Opera Nationala din Budapesta)

The Hungarian State Opera House is located in the central of the Hungarian capital city, Budapest, and it is hosted by an artistically crafted edifice, whose architecture is representative for the Neo-Renaissance style.

The architect behind the Opera House was Miklós Ybl, a representative figure in the Hungarian architecture of the 19th century, who had supervised the project until its completion in 1884 (after 9 years of work).

The institution had the pleasure of counting quite a handful of important figures of the cultural life of Hungary as part of the performing artists going on stage. Among these, Gustav Mahler and Otto Klemperer, the great composers and conductors of their generation (late 19th century – early 20th century) are worth mentioning.


The passage of time had left its imprint on the edifice in as much that in the ‘70s, the Hungarian officials had decided to begin a restoration project which would retrieve the former glorious appearance of the Opera House. The renovation lasted for 4 years, from 1980 until 1984, and the refurbished Opera House was revealed to the public on  the 27th of September, 100 years after the original opera house was inaugurated.

The Hungarian State Opera House is not mentioned on this page solely because it is relevant in defining the state and its cultural life, but also because it is a beautiful edifice, which, while architecturally designed in the Neo-Renaissance style, it also consists of Baroque influences. The decoration involves magnificent sculptural work, as well as paintings, signed by major artists such as Bertalan Szekely or Karoly Lotz.


The magnitude of the building as well as the number of people it can fit within its walls is limited so these are definitely not the characteristics which impress the public. However, there are other elements which contribute to the name the Opera House has gained: the architectural detailing and the quality of the sound. These precise characteristics are the ones to place the Hungarian State Opera House among the greatest opera houses in the world.

In front of the opera house stands erect the statue of Ferenc Erkel, the composer of the national anthem of Hungary together with the sculpture representing Frantz Ritter von Liszt, the great Hungarian composer, pianist and conductor.


Besides the opera recitals held at this specific institution, the Hungarian State Opera House also shows ballet performances. This specific institution is not opened throughout the year. Thus, if you happen to arrive in Budapest sometime between July and August, you will not have the opportunity of visiting the opera house as it is closed in this interval.

Besides the main building, the Opera House consists of an ancillary edifice, the Erkel Theatre, which is actually much larger than the principal building.


In terms of decorations, the opera house stands out due to the impressive mural work which covers the arched ceiling of the hallway. This segment of the edifice is covered with the Greek mythological figures – the Nine Muses (the goddesses of inspiration of literature, science and fine arts). But, besides the murals, the hallway is also noteworthy due to its structure which consists of a dome and marble pilasters, at which are added the luxurious chandeliers, thus the edifice conveying a feeling of lavishness. Just to make an idea of the richness of the details and of the luxuriousness of the ornaments, it should be mentioned that the main hall is adorned by means of a massive chandelier made out of bronze which reaches an impressive weight – 3050 kg.

Aug 28

The National Museum of Archeology and History (Muzeul National de Arheologie si Istorie)

The National Museum of Archeology and History is located in the historical centre of the Moldovan capital-city, Chisinau and encompases a variety of items which are representative for specific historical periods. The exhibitions consist of more that 300.000 objects and the items which are part of the national heritage of Moldova exceed half of this number.

Among the important vestiges which form the collections located at the National Museum of Archeology and History, there is something which is worth mentioning, more precisely a symbolic sculpture which reigns over the courtyard of the museum: a replica of the “Capitoline Wolf” statue located in Rome – the sculpture which was inspired from the legend that explained the foundation of Rome.

This institution is among the most important cultural edifices on the entire territory of the Republic of Moldova. The museum was founded near the end of 1983, under the order issued by the Ministry of Culture. According to this directive, the previous institution, which was based on the collections encountered at the Museum of Military Glory, was bound to change its profile, in the sense that the assortment of items on display was undergoing a process of expansion, enriching the collection of the museum.

Up until 2006, this cultural institution bore the name of the National Museum of History, but as it underwent several changes, more precisely having incorporated the Museum of Archeology, the name was changed to the National Museum of Archeology and History so as to reflect the structure of the new improved museum and the types of collections encountered here.


The museum is actually constantly changing in the sense that the collections are enriched by means of donations, acquisitions, scientific research and archeological diggings. In fact, there were two noteworthy periods in the “life and growth” of the museum due to the fact that the museum was enhanced by the large collections of items which were reassigned to this specific institution when the former museums which contained them had closed their doors. It was precisely this aspect that contributed extensively to the improvement of the National Museum of Archeology and History, but also to the diversity of the items exhibited.

The objects found within the museum are divided based on their origin and the timeframe in which they were used. The museum consists of various sections, each dedicated to a specific historical period, which taken as a whole retrace the evolution of Moldova, tracking the historical events of the past, up to the present. The need for such an institution is obvious: it allows individuals to gain knowledge about their history, having insight into their ancestors’ way of life, customs and traditions, as well as becoming aware of the events which had led to the way in which contemporary society presents itself.

The first permanent exhibition was established in 1991 and it was entitled “Pages of Centuries-old History of Moldova” in which the events and artifacts partaining to the historical period that stretched from the ancient times until the middle of the 20th century were presented to the public. The collection occupied three rooms and consisted of 900 pieces.

After a couple of year however the exhibition was reorganized so as to fill the entire first floor of the museum. The items of the collection were chronologically arranged in such a way so as to allure the visitor to attentivelly gaze at the items and retrace the history of Moldova from the Paleolithic Age until the 1950s.

The National Museum of Archeology and History also offers a variety of temporary exhibitions which are set up with the help of various individuals and organizations. The museum is interested in bringing awareness of the immense value that the collections inside the institution have and thus organizes various events which are meant to pinpoint this precise aspect. The majority of these provisional exhibits however are put together in collaboration with different museums or cultural institutions. These are either held at the premises of the museum or abroad, thus making the national museum and its collections known throughout the world.