On June 1st 1957, the Museum of Romanian Literature was inaugurated in Bucharest.
On June 1st 1957, the Museum of Romanian Literature was inaugurated in Bucharest. Its main promoter was academician Perpessicius. By his real name, Dumitru S. Panaitescu, the future man of letters was born in the southeastern town of Braila in October 1891 and died aged 79 in Bucharest. He adopted the pen name of Perpessicius in 1915, when his first writings appeared in the periodicals of the time. Over time, Perpessicius compelled a well-deserved recognition, being keen on folklore, poetry and literary history, especially on the life and works of our great poet Mihai Eminescu. Actually, the publication of Eminescu’s full works was supervised by Perpessicius himself. Director of the Academy Library, Perpessicius also became the director of the review Manuscriptum, published under the sponsorship of the Museum of Romanian Literature, whose first director he was.
Ioan Cristescu, the present director of the Museum of Romanian Literature, told us more about the early days of the institution: "The idea to establish a museum of literature was advocated before Perpessicius, poets Mihai Beniuc and Tudor Arghezi being among its champions. Upon Mihai Eminescu’s birth centennial, they wanted to bring together all that was related to Eminescu. That is why Perpessicius was appointed the first director of the Museum of Literature, because he was the best expert in our national poet’s works at the time. The museum was first housed in a building on Kiseleff Boulevard, where the Writers’ Union had had its head office for years. When that room became too cramped, he moved the museum to a building on Dacia Boulevard, where it was open for 50 years.”
In 2014, the Museum of Literature had to leave the building which had been returned to its owners. Its heritage and collections were moved to another building in downtown Bucharest, where they keep growing. Director Ioan Cristescu again: “The heritage of the museum has permanently been enriched. When the museum moved out, its heritage included over 15,000 manuscripts. At the moment, we have more than 300,000 manuscripts included in over 300 collections. We have a very rich collection of old and rare books, an impressive library of over 70,000 books and of course, writers’ memorabilia. The museum has steadily grown to become a hub of Romanian literature, but we also have manuscripts of European writers.”
The museum boasts manuscripts of Marcel Proust, Thomas Mann, Paul Valery, Giovanni Papini, Giuseppe Ungaretti. In addition to movables, the Museum of Romanian Literature also owns some real estate consisting of writers’ memorial houses. Ioan Cristescu: “We have the “Tudor Arghezi” Memorial House which in 1967 the poet wanted to donate to the Romanian state, then the house where poet George Bacovia had lived and which became a memorial house through his wife’s care. We also have two flats that belonged to prose writer Liviu Rebreanu and poet Ion Minulescu respectively, donated by their descendants”.
In March, the exhibition of the Museum of Romanian Literature was opened in the house currently hosting it. Another venue used for exhibitions and conferences will be opened in the historical center of Bucharest this autumn.