THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF ANTIQUITIES became part of the structure of the Academy in 1948; it is the second treasury of valuable cultural pieces of the Romanian Academy. As in many other European countries, modern public museums appeared in Romania through the generous endowments of a handful of amateurs éclairés who donated their private collections to the state. Such a donor was, in 1834, Mihalache Ghica, a highly polished character, brother to Alexandru Ghica, then Prince of Wallachia.

This collection was the nucleus of the future National Museum of Antiquities. Shortly, the Museum became the beneficiary of all chance archeological discoveries as well as of those resulting from planned digs.


In addition, dozens of some of the richest private collections in the country entered the Museum’s patrimony both through donations and acquisitions. The diversity of these sources accounts for the heterogeneous character of the Museum, which had in its bequest objects found on Romanian territory next to artifacts purchased abroad or of uncertain origin, objects of widely different types and from very different times (divers prehistoric objects, coins from all eras, works of art or of quotidian use, from the antiquity down to our time). The National Museum was a repository for Egyptian objects and artifacts from Cyprus and Mycenae, painted Greek vessels, a curious collection of wristwatches, as well as many works of religious art removed from the churches of some monasteries after the decree of secularization of Alexandru Ioan Cuza in 1863. At the same time, the Museum reunited expert connoisseurs of many different categories of objects belonging to different times and places of civilization and culture, and for this reason also fulfilled the role of a center of archeological research; indeed its directors were brilliant personalities of Romanian academic life from Alexandru Odobescu to Grigore Tocilescu, Vasile Pârvan, Ion Nestor and others. Like the Committee of Historical Monuments, the National Museum of Antiquities was organized through a special code which also governed the preservation and study of ancient monuments in Romania.

Thus, when in 1948 the National Museum of Antiquities became subordinate to the Romanian Academy, and in 1956, a part of the newly founded Institute of Archeology, these decisions seemed logical enough. However, in the following years, the collections suffered partial transfers to regional museums as these were being set up or reorganized. Still, with its heritage of over 100,000 pieces, in addition to a valuable and large lapidary and 150,000 numismatic pieces from the Greco-Roman antiquity and the Middle Ages, the Institute of Archeology owns one of the most valuable treasuries of antiquities not only in Romania but in South Eastern Europe. In 1990, the Presidium of the Romanian Academy decided it would reopen the National Museum of Antiquities; to this end, painstaking and delicate preparations are currently under way. Educational functions will complement the scientific role of the collections. The visitors to the Museum will thus be able to have an overview of all the cultures on Romanian territory, from the Paleolithic and the Neolithic to the bronze and the iron ages. All traces of the classic Greco-Roman civilization in ancient Dacia will be brought together with those found in the antique sites on the Black Sea, with archeological discoveries dating from the era of the Barbarian migrations and from the Middle Ages, with Egyptian antiquities from older donations, dating from the third millenium B.C. to the Hellenistic period, with Greek vessels from Cyprus and Mycenae dating from the bronze age, with Italic objects such as Etruscan pieces and ceramics in the styles of Apulia and Campania from the 8th-1st centuries B.C. etc.



copyright © Romanian Academy 2006

copyright © Academia Română 2006