The “Dimitrie Gusti” National Village Museum hosted the Village Museum Days, 85 years since the institution was established
The week of May 10, a sanctuary of quiet, nature, tradition and culture, the “Dimitrie Gusti” National Village Museum in Bucharest, hosted events, exhibitions and fairs to mark the Village Museum Days, 85 years since the institution was established.
The museum was opened on 10 May 1936, in the presence of King Carol II, and since then it has been one of the city’s major tourist attractions. The motivation for setting up an outdoor museum was the importance of the village, of rural traditions and craftsmanship in Romanian culture.
On the banks of Herăstrău lake in Bucharest, many genuine households and installations, the oldest one built in the 17th century, have been reassembled here, after having been brought to the city by train, cart or boat—an extraordinary effort that gave birth to the museum. We talked to the museum manager Paulina Popoiu, Ph.D., about the anniversary:
Paulina Popoiu: “We organised these “museum days” activities, and devoted about one week in May to the Village Museum, precisely in order to mark this anniversary and to celebrate its founders. Obviously, because of the pandemic the celebration is a little smaller in scale than the events we organised on the 80th anniversary, but this is natural given the circumstances. Even so, I should say there was plenty to see and do, and there were a lot of surprises. For the first time, we introduced the official title of “honorary ambassador of the Village Museum,” to reward those who, one way or another, have contributed either to the development of the museum, or to promoting it in the country or abroad. I hope we will continue to give this title until the museum’s 100th anniversary.”
Mrs. Paulina Popoiu gave us a few details about the beginnings of the museum and about the exhibitions focusing on that period:
Paulina Popoiu: “Perhaps what I should begin with is that all these events were held under the motto “The Museum and the Royal House”. Why? Because the founding and existence of the Village Museum is closely connected to the Royal House, which at the time of the establishment of the museum provided both financial and moral support to the research conducted by Dimitrie Gusti and the Bucharest sociology school in the over 600 villages of Romania, and the “Prince Carol” Foundations contributed significantly to the birth of the museum. So we think of the museum as a royal establishment, and it was only natural to remind the people that we also celebrate 100 years since the birth of King Michael, who was a great friend of the museum in his later years and whom we would meet in the morning on the alleys here. There was an exhibition opened on 10 of May, a symbolic day because it is the day of the Romanian Royal House and because it follows the celebration of Romania’s independence and Europe Day on 9 May. This series of events are beautifully connected, and the Village Museum is an important character in this story. This exhibition called “The Museum and the Royal House” presents the life of King Michael and the life of the museum. We worked with the National Archives and the Royal House and we included archive photos and several items that belonged to King Michael. To recreate the atmosphere of 1936, we brought here vintage cars, really outstanding and well worth seeing cars. Also, for 7 days we had ladies and gentlemen wearing period costumes borrowed from the National Theatre in Bucharest, in an attempt to recreate the urban atmosphere in which the Village Museum was set up. I think it is very interesting that this museum of the village and of traditional civilisation is located at the heart of the capital city, Bucharest. In a way, the Village Museum is the beating heart of this great city, because it showcases identity values, the values created over the centuries by Romanian peasants, and the houses here are a present for us from generations and generations of peasants.”
At the end of our dialogue, the manager of the “Dimitrie Gusti” Village Museum, Paulina Popoiu, was proud to tell us about the interest shown by tourists for this special place in Bucharest:
Paulina Popoiu: “It is worth noting that before the pandemic the museum had 910,000 visitors a year, many of them foreigners. There even was a year when we had more than half a million of foreign tourists coming here. So I would call the Village Museum the ambassador of Romania worldwide, and I hope after this difficult period is over we will pick up where we left off.” (tr. A.M. Popescu)