For the last 43 years, around the date of May 18, museums around the world are invited to celebrate the International Day of Museums
For the last 43 years, around the date of May 18, museums around the world are invited to celebrate the International Day of Museums. Starting in 1977, we got used to events organized for a whole day, a weekend, or even a week.
This year, even though it seemed unlikely, around May 18 several museums around the country are reopening. Also this year, 84 years since the inauguration of the Dimitrie Gusti National Village Museum, complying with the social distancing measures instituted as part of the national emergency measures, then national alert state, the Village Museum opened its gates to the public.
On this occasion, Minister of Culture Bogdan Gheorghiu said:
“If we learned anything during this very difficult period for us was that we saw how important and present culture is in our society, in our cities, and in our lives. Culture brings inspiration, creativity and hope in our cities and our lives. We believe it will be essential in getting back to normalcy not only in Romania, but all over the world. Until two months ago, we thought access to a museum was normal, a natural thing. Today I want us to appreciate the freedom to choose, and to appreciate these historic institutions, but also educational institutions, because museums are the protectors of the past, but also of prospects for the future, fixes against oblivion. I hope that we have sparked the curiosity of people that have not set foot in a museum since childhood, or maybe have never visited one, and that the news of museums opening will attract new visitors, who wish to spend some healthy time outdoors. Culture, in all its forms, is a therapy for the soul, especially in these trying times.”
The consultative body of the International Council of Museums, set up in 1946, picks every year the theme for the International Day of Museums, such as globalization, indigenous populations, reducing culture gaps, and care for the environment. Minister of Culture Bogdan Gheorghiu told us about what happens this year:
“Reopening museums, we hope, will be close to the date of May 18, the International Day of Museums, which this year will revolve around equality, diversity, and inclusion. I would also add solidarity, because together we can overcome this situation. I would wrap up by inviting you to visit museums, but paying attention to the rules of safety and public health, because this is the best proof of mutual respect.”
Dr. Paula Popoiu, manager of the Village Museum, pressed on some further points:
“It is said that women are more active. We have prepared during these months, which have been said for us, because we were used to the museum being full, with a variety of activities. I, for one, really miss the children that were all over the alleys in the Village Museum, because they gave us the best feedback on what it is that we are doing here. We are running a village here, after all.”
Sergiu Nistor, presidential adviser, had an encouraging message:
“The resumption of activity will be very fast in museums. I want to convey an encouraging message for people working in culture, who can not yet have physical contact with the public. That moment will come. We have the example of George Enescu, born over here, who spent his youth during the Great War, where he played his violin in the trenches and in field hospitals. In spite of that, after the Great War was over and national unity was achieved, Enescu said: 'Culture shall prevail! It is impossible for something created for so many centuries to vanish. Humanity has been through difficult periods before and made it.'
And he concluded: 'We must have faith and we will win!' I am saying that because I am convinced that what the Village Museum does today is more than preparing a reopening. It is a call to optimism, it is a call to creativity and collaboration between cultural institutions in order to take the most appropriate measures to start welcoming visitors back.”
Since in Romania Museum Day is around the same time of the relaxation of lockdown, Dr. Paula Popoiu, manager of the Village Museum, told us what the museum caretakers did during this time of isolation, and what measures they are taking for a safe visit to the museum, one of the most popular in the country:
“We will obviously take all the measures possible when opening the museum, just as we take in our personal lives. I have to make a confession: during all the time that the museum was shut down, professional life was not good at all. We have had people with a lot of initiative all the time we have been open. One day I came to the museum, and found my colleagues digging in the gardens to plant flowers, because people worked with even more love for the job than before. We got a few hundred masks, we made proposals to some large stores to form partnerships, which means that we are putting up their logos and they provide masks and disinfectants. We will apply two kinds of rules, some for indoor and some for the outdoor. Because we have the exhibition rooms, with temporary exhibitions, and the fact that each house is a micro-exhibition, which is why we have limited access to them. I think that we cannot let ourselves be overcome by problems, but find solutions.”