Storck House belonged to a family of sculptors and painters. It was designed by Architect Alexandre Clavel and built between 1911 and 1913. Inspired by German architecture, the building hosts impressive frescoes done by Cecilia Storck, sculptures done by Frederic Storck and bas-reliefs by Karl Storck. The house (especially its interiors) comes as an unexpected surprise in a quarter of villas where French architecture prevails.
Str. Vasile Alecsandri nr. 16 (it lies 10 minutes off Romana Square)
Zambaccian House. Krikor Zambaccian (1889 - 1962), Armenian business man, gathered art objects for four decades and placed it in this especially built house. The house was built in the 1930s and it was expanded in 1957. In 1946 the owner donated it to the government: 165 paintings, 71 graphics, 40 sculptures and 16 pieces of furniture. One can admire here an impressive collection, including the only Cezanne in Romania, as well as paintings by Luchian, Tonitza and Pallady.
Str. Muzeul Zambaccian nr. 21A (close to Dorobanti Square)
There are more such houses, like Beatrice and Hrandt Avakian House (especially beautiful dwelling), Theodor Aman House or Gheorghe Buzdugan House (nowadays hosting Cornel Medrea's sculpture collection); Avakian House is closed waiting for renovation, Aman House is under restoration, while Buzdugan is open to the public. Go and explore them!
This museum is hosted in the building of the Romanian Geology Institute, set in 1906 in Neobrancoveanu style and designed by Architect Victor Stefanescu. The museum was opened in 1990 and it hosts over 80,000 samples of minerals, rocks and plant / animal fossils, in his 22 halls. There are also reconstitutions of large vertebrates discovered in geological strata across Romania, including a few dinosaurs in natural size, of the ones discovered around Hateg. It is one of the largest collections of its kind in South-Eastern Europe.
The museum is arranged like a book, according to the main domains of Geology. There are different itineraries through the museum, according to your time and particular interest.
The building itself can be a reason to visit the museum. It is open daily, 10.00-18.00.
Well, being selfish, I pondered for a while whether to write or not this tip. Because it is about those fine houses that once belonged to important figures of the moment and were later turned into museums or art collections. And one of the things I always liked about them was their being quiet and tourist free. But here I go.
Melik House is the oldest civilian building in the city, being greatly preserved in a small garden. Nowadays it hosts some of Theodor Pallady's paintings. It was built in 1760 by a merchant and sold in 1815 to Armenian Hagi Kevork Nazaretoglu which restored it in 1822. It was preserved in the initial shape and structure to this day. The house preserves the elements of a traditional Wallachian peasant house (high cellar, glass covered veranda). It would remind one of similar structures in Sarajevo or Pristina.
Str. Spatarului nr. 22 (close to the crossing of Calea Mosilor with Carol I Ave.)
Dumitru Minovici House was built in Gothic English style in 1939, after its owner bought many pieces of old Western art (stained glass windows, a chimney, statues, a whole library, old tables and chairs, paintings); the interesting thing is that he had the house built to fit these items and hence the harmonious display. Add here a charismatic, very knowledgeable guard (thank you a lot, Ion) that will tell you many things about the exhibits (in Romanian only unfortunately). Next to this house there is the beautiful Dr. Nicolae Minovici House built after Architect Cristofi Cerchez's plans in the style of an Oltenia cula with wonderful Brancoveanu decorations, closed for a desperately needed restoration nowadays.
Str. Dr. Nicolae Minovici nr. 3 (it lies close to Bucuresti Baneasa Railway Station)
Tel.: 021-6657334, 0727981257
The Museum of Maps and Old Books.
Romanian communists used to say: "Munca te invata, munca te inalta" (En.: Work is one's teacher and key to evolution). The early 1990s came with a 'great' sequel: "Noi muncim, noi nu gandim" (En.: We work, we do not think). The staff in this museum have gone way farther.
Let me start with the great place it otherwise is.
The house was built by an Armenian in Italian Renaissance style, then it hosted a couple of embassies. It was turned into a museum during the rule of PM Adrian Nastase, and it hosts a collection of 750 maps donated by Adrian and Daniela Nastase. There are maps dating from 1500 to 1930, old engravings, sketches depicting the rural life in Romania. The cartographic works belong to famous authors: Hubert Jaillot (1693), Mercator, Ortelius, Ioan Honterius. The museum is the fourth in the world by the number of old maps. The collection is brilliantly exhibited, with well lit and taken advantage of items and with a righteous use of space (a welcome exception in this country, together with the National Art Museum and the Collections' Museum).
"Ay, there is the rub". Caretakers that scold the visitor instead of showing him/her around and hysteric guards ready to beat one off for shooting (no flash) pictures - without anyone ever pointing this is forbidden - this is not my favourite way of visiting a museum. Sending a complaint to the Ministry of Culture, the museum staff stated they were "shocked" by my doing so.
Epilogue. Of a masochistic nature, in December 2007 I went back to shoot this picture (from the street, i.e. public space). By the time I had my camera out of the backpack, one of the staff had already burst out of the building. I was "lucky" to be on the bike and vanish, so as to save the picture. I still fail to see how anyone can live in a never ending "1984"; it is sad that they have turned this otherwise great place into a prison. I am sorry for the shaken and bent image, but it was easier to take pictures in Afghanistan or Kosovo.
There is a Jewish Historic Museum east of Piata Unirii, in the old jewish quarter. The museum is in an old synagogue and tells the history of the Jewish people in Romania.
Opening hours 9:00 - 13:00 (mo,tu,we,vr,so);
9:00 - 16:00 (th); saturday closed.
Admission is free, but a donation is expected.
Housed in a synagogue dating to 1850, this museum traces the history of Romania's Jewish population, the second largest in Europe prior to World War II, with some 750,000. Due to the Holocaust and later emigration, only about 15,000 Jews remain in Romania. COST: Donation. OPEN: Mon., Wed., and Sun. 9-1; Thurs. 9-noon and 3-6.
In the cellar of the Museum of Romanian Peasant there are two small rooms dedicated to the “collectivization” of agriculture in Romania which took place in the early years of the communist regime. Started in 1949 the project sought to force the peasants to bring their land into collective farms. Aside from the persistent propaganda, violent means like intimidation, beating, arrest and imprisonment were used to convince peasants to join. According to a wikipedia page on the subject, by 1962 a total of 96% of the country’s arable surface and 93.4% of its agricultural land had been included in collective structures. To achieve this 80.000 peasants were taken to court, 30.000 of which were judged and found guilty in public trials. The effect of the small rooms is rather chilling. The first room is wallpapered with old newspapers clippings while the second room looks like one used for a party meeting, where “traitors” were brought forward, accused and asked to self-criticize.
The museum is housed in a former tailors' synagogue dating back to 1850. The museum focuses on commemorating the once-vibrant Jewish community. A central sculpture mourns the 100 to 150,000 Jews deported to hard-labour camps in Transdniestr and the 200,000 Transylvanian Jews killed at Auschwitz in 1944 and 1945 (Nobel prize-winning writer Elie Wiesel was one of the few survivors of this late deportation).
Founded in 1972, the museum illustrates the most important battles for independence and freedom in Romanian history. The museum features collections of Oriental and Occidental weapons, Romanian and foreign uniforms, military medals and awards, trophies, artillery, canons and airplanes as well as a library of historical military documents.
The centerpiece is the 1989 Revolution exhibit, displaying mainly personal belongings donated by families of soldiers and civilians killed during the upheaval.
Open: Tue. - Sun. 9:00am - 5:00pm; Closed Mon.
Impressive collections of minerals and quartz formations specific to the area are found here, including a well-presented geological structure of Romania.
Open: Mon. - Sun. 10:00am - 4:00pm
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