Hosted today by a neo-Gothic palace built in the first half of the 19th century, the museum was founded in 1921.
Hosted today by a neo-Gothic palace built in the first half of the 19th century, the museum was founded in 1921. However, it was only after 1926 that its activity gained pace. The boyar Grigore Sutu had the palace built between 1833 and 1836, based on blueprints by two Viennese architects, and at that time this was one of the most magnificent buildings in the city. After its glory days in the second half of the 19th century, the palace gradually fell into disrepair. In the early 20th century, the family rented it out to the City Hall, and during World War Two, they even sold it to the local administration. Apart from the main collections hosted by Sutu Palace, the museum has seven other buildings that are mainly scattered in the old city center. They are memorial houses that were once owned by notable Romanian personalities, such as the prominent scientist Victor Babes and physician Nicolae Minovici. As a result, the museum’s permanent exhibitions showcase in particular the history of the events and personalities that proved highly influential for the city.
However, a Museum of the Ages has recently been opened within the Bucharest City Museum. It is dedicated precisely to the lives of common people and to the changes the day-to-day life of ordinary Bucharest has been going through. Bearing the motto “From Childhood to Old Age,” the Museum of the Ages is an urban anthropology project, so apart from aspects pertaining to cultural anthropology, the museum also includes elements that provide a timeline of the evolution of the human body. For instance, data on the weight, height and build of the Bucharesters of the old days are contrasted to data on the present-day locals of Bucharest. Furthermore, as an absolute novelty, in one of the Museum’s 10 halls, hosted by the two floors of the Cesianu-Filipescu House on Victory Road, a labour ward was reconstructed, as it was a hundred years ago and as it looks today, in an undertaking bridging 100 years of history, from 1912 to 2012. The labour ward was equipped with items donated by the Filantropia Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital, but also by a private donor.
The Museum of the Ages is a non-conventional area, which relies more on interactivity than on restored items, according to the director of Bucharest City Museum, Adrian Majuru: ”It is an exhibition focusing on life at home, where we are born, grow up and get old. This is why the name From Childhood to Old Age is not only a reference to the broad timeline of history, but also to a continuous investment of the human being, namely the investment in amenities, in comfort. So we thought it useful to make an exhibition of the items that we have come to rely on, in our day-to-day work, over the past hundred years or so. For instance, we have the theme of active time, which has to do with how we tend to work or be active longer hours, until late at night, as compared to 100 years ago. Or the way in which couples are formed, in which people get close to one another through technology. In the past, you had to wait for as long as three years between getting engaged and getting married. These days, you can propose to someone in three days. The vocabulary is different, and the Internet has made a significant contribution to this change.“
The way the Museum of the Ages was designed turns it into a unique institution among the range of museums in the capital city and elsewhere across the country. With details on that, here is the historian Adrian Majuru: ”By and large, 60% of the area is interactive. This time, we’ve been less into the well-known, linear museum exhibition pattern. We do have restorations of interiors for four historical periods, but more than a half of the area is used as an interactive space. We have also tried to introduce forecasting into the museum area. There is a film screened on the first floor, based on an interview with historian Neagu Djuvara who compared yesterday’s Bucharest to the Bucharest of today, discussing a 40-year span. After that, we talk about the future. We’re also interested in that, and we’re particularly interested in the feedback we get from Bucharesters as soon as the museum is opened. “
As for the locals of Bucharest, they’re invited to visit, for instance, the second hall of the Cesianu-Filipescu House, which reconstructs a room typical for the middle class of the 1900-1920s. The evolution of clothing is also presented there, as well as other household items which are part of the Bucharest City Museum’s heritage, but also items belonging to common Bucharesters. In the third hall of the house an interior was rebuilt, typical for the inter-war period.