Aug 03

The Romanian National Museum of History (Muzeul National de Istorie)

The Romanian National Museum of History is located on Victoria Avenue, in the Romanian capital city, Bucharest. The edifice which houses the museum is actually the Post-Office Palace which has been constructed back in the last years of the 19th century. History has it that the town council decided to erect the palace on the ruins of an inn which burnt down in 1847.

The architect behind the project, Alexandru Savulescu, designed a neoclassical building which consisted of an entranceway supported by ten Doric columns (the organizational system developed in Ancient Greece according to which the piers were placed directly on the flat pavement). The architect designed steps at the entrance which spread throughout the length of the façade.


The building presents on both sides (the left and right extremities) two domes, which give an imposing look to the construction. The central post office of the city had its office here for 70 years, since 1970, when the edifice underwent a refurbishing process. Part of this process consisted of rearranging the building so as to meet the needs of a museum.

The museum was inaugurated in 1972 and the collections encountered here have expended year after year so that at present visitors can admire close to 690.000 objects: 78.580 items belong to the archeological domain, 183.714retrace the historical past, the numismatic collection consists of a little over 333.500 items, there are 605 old volumes and more than 80.000 items connected to the study of stamps and postal history.


The museum comprises a special section where monuments from Greece, Rome and the Medieval Times are on display. The collections encountered here contain sculptures, items of décor, religious monuments and documents.

The documents retrace different historical periods – one of the most important documents  is Hotărnicia Histriei (the paper through which the future of Histria was determined). This was issued by Laberius Maximus in 100 A.D. and comprised the territorial demarcation of the province as well as some fiscal exceptions granted for fishing in the Danube Delta.


Visitors can also gaze upon various types of funeral monuments. According to specific timeframes, the funeral ritual was conducted in a different manner and the monuments used to adorn the resting place of the defunct were constantly changing. These were represented by statuettes, pedestals, inscriptions, altars, representations of mythological beings or stars. Usually the monuments used for funerals comprise two parts: the part with the engraving and the one with the decorations. The lettering inscribed on the funeral stone was usually done in Latin, with some exceptions in which they were written in Greek.

The Romanian National Museum of History also contains 7 sculptures which have been discovered in Moesia Inferior. There is only one sculpture which depicts a male personage, whereas the rest are representations of women in different postures.


In terms of architectural items, the museum has on display ruins from the ancient cities Tomis and Callatis. The Middle Ages are represented through various items with religious symbolism, engravings, gravestones as well as objects alluding to the architectural styles used in that period.

Taking into account that this is the national museum of Romania it is obvious that it contains bits and pieces from each of the ancient civilizations that have dwelt in the region such as the Hellenic civilization or the Dacians.


Everything from original documents, items of furniture, weaponry, manuscripts, paintings and numismatic collections can be found within the walls of the National Museum of History.

Valuable items, such as precious stones and items made of silver and gold are located in the subterranean vault. These items come in different shapes and sizes, such as golden idols, crucifixes, together with the treasure of the Visigoths (Germanic people) and that of the royal family.

There are numerous objects of immense value located in the National Museum of History, each of them contributing to the rewriting of Romania’s history.

Jul 02

The Ethnographic Museum (Muzeul Etnografic)

The Ethnographic Museum is situated in Belgrade, Serbia, and has been officially founded in 1901. But in reality, the museum gained shaped quite a few years back. And it is normal to have been so as each state is interested in organizing a space where the historical past of that specific nation is recorded in detail. Ethnographic items began to be collected since the 1800s and close to the middle of the 19th century some of these objects were on display at the National Museum of Serbia.

An intense gathering began in the 1860s as a result of the Serbian participation at the All-Slavic Exhibition, an event organized in the Russian capital city, Moscow. Naturally, all of the states situated in the Balkan area participated at the event. There is one aspect that could be considered as a downside to the whole thing and that is that the items gathered with this occasion remained in Moscow. But it did trigger the population’s interest into its origins and thus the state began searching deeper and deeper in order to retrace its ancestral roots.


The idea to create an actual museum of this kind was put forth in 1872 by the Serbian Learned Society. While this thought began to gradually take form and to transform itself into an actual plan, there was still a lot of work to be done in order to make the idea become a reality. It took almost thirty years for this to be attained but in the end, Serbia got its Ethnographic Museum in 1901.

The edifice which housed the museum was a gift presented to the state by Stevča Mihailović. With the lodging problem solved, the ethnographic items located at the National Museum of History were transferred to the new building. The initial collections consisted of 909 ethnographic items, 32 books, some photographs and an album belonging to Nikola Arsenijević which consisted of folk costumes made in water colors and drawing – this particular item is of great value.


But the person elected to handle the administrative aspects of the museum took his job seriously and initiated a project which would eventually rise in 3 years-time as much as 8.500 items of ethnological importance. While the focus was on the items of Serbian origin, the museum also took interest in other items which explained the formation of different civilizations located in the Balkan region. Thus the field work and research began in 1902 and continued throughout the years.

1904 marks the year when the first permanent exhibition was organized at the museum and from then onward, the supervisors of the museum have engaged in serious collecting projects, enlarging the collections found at the museum year after year.


But much of these items were destroyed during the two world wars. However, this did not mean that it was the end for the Ethnographic Museum. In fact, the museum expanded and as a part of this project, a gazette was published on a regular basis.

As time went by, the museum ended up having eight permanent expositions and nearly 300 temporary exhibitions. At present, the items found inside the museum are arranged in several collections: jewelry, folk attire, household items, pottery, glassware, film and video records, elements of national architecture, objects used in rituals, and the like.


These are organized according to the centuries in which they were used, so tourists can chronologically follow the evolution of the Serbians, in particular, and of the Balkan populations, in general, throughout time. More so, the museum has a vast library which comprises a multitude of specialized volumes. So if you are ever in Begrade and you are interested in learning more about the history of Balkan people, you will find every information you need at the Ethnographic Museum.