Visit the most exciting museums when in Bucharest
Feb 17, 2018 | Travel guide
With over 60 museums and memorial houses spread all over the city, Bucharest is among Europe’s biggest capitals. Romanian art, the country’s rich folklore, or country’s rich and exciting history, the capital has it all, so every visitor can find something fun to do around the museums in Bucharest. Just grab a taxi from Bucharest airport to city center and start exploring.
Located in the southwestern wing of the Parliament Palace, a remarkable Communist-era building that dominates Bucharest’s skyline, the MNAC is the city’s most valued art venue. Here you can see an eclectic collection of Romanian and Eastern European artists, along with two to three temporary exhibitions by up-and-coming Romanian artists. The visit requires a long walk from the closest metro stop (Izvor), so see the museum’s website in advance to see what’s on. The museum rests on a hilltop, offering great panoramic views over Bucharest from the terrace.
Sheltered by the former Royal Palace in central Bucharest, the MNaR displays a large collection of medieval and modern Romanian art, together with an eclectic display of international art collected by the Romanian royal family. The highlight of the Romanian modern exhibition are the sculptures by Constantin Brancusi, one of the pioneers of modernism.
This small museum is a true gem with an eclectic collection of paintings and objects, collected by 44 of the most prominent aristocratic families of Romania, and later donated to the museum. The collection of paintings includes works by 19th and 20th century Romanian masters Alexandru Ciucurencu, Francisc Şirato, Nicolae Grigorescu, Theodor Aman, Nicolae Tonitza, and many more. The museum’s mesmerizing collection of bright-colored Transylvanian wood, glass painted icons and exotic display of Japanese stamps, add a touch of uniqueness.
Walk through the Dimitrie Gusti National Village Museum to take in the diversity and the charm of the Romanian traditional village architecture. Sitting in Herastrau Park, this open-air museum displays nearly 300 houses, farms, windmills, and churches from all regions of Romania, showcased along narrow alleys bordered by old trees. When the weather is nice, the museum organizes fairs where local artisans can display their craft, along with mass picnics and workshops.
This museum shelters the country’s largest and most valuable collection of peasant costumes, ceramics, rugs and carpets, and other household objects gathered over generations from all regions of Romania. There are 90,000 items on display, out of which 20,000 are garments and accessories, reflecting the richness and originality of the peasant craft. Each year, on February 24th, when Romanians celebrate Dragobete (a local equivalent of St. Valentine’s Day), there’s a dedicated fair in the museum’s yard.
The Museum of Romanian History displays some of the most impressive artifacts, war objects, and solid gold jewelry in Europe. The beautiful 13 Dacian gold bracelets seen here date back from the 1st century BC and weigh around one kilogram each. They represent some of the most valuable treasures in the Romanian patrimony. This jewelry worn by the Dacians, the forefathers of the Romanians, have dual ornamental and votive function, offering a glimpse into one of the most mysterious civilizations in the region.
Built in Brancovenesc style, this palace witnessed 400 years of history unfold inside its walls. Starting as a monastery built in 1679, this place was later transformed by Romanian rulers into a summer residence. This was before King Carol I built the palace and turned it into a royal residence. With the arrival of the Communist regime in 1947, the palace sheltered the headquarters of the Communist youth movement. The royal palace today is both a museum and the residence of the President of Romania, displaying paintings, sculptures, decorative art, old books, religious art, and photography of high historic value.
In the center of Bucharest, on a quiet street where early 19th century architecture lures with its old charm and character, you can see Casa Storck - an art museum with a personal touch. The building is truly remarkable, based on a design by Frederic Storck himself. Inside, you can feel the intimate space that combines the artistic works of several generations of artists, contributing greatly to the city’s cultural heritage. Aside from the carefully selected collection of paintings, illustrations, and sculptures, this museum showcases large murals depicting feminine silhouettes and floral motifs, covering the entire walls and the ceiling.
Located in the Cantacuzino Palace, an iconic Art Nouveau-style building in Bucharest, the museum is a dedication to George Enescu’s life and work. Enescu is considered to be the greatest Romanian music composer, a musical genius who began playing the violin at the age of four. His most famous works include the Romanian Rhapsodies and Oedipe, an opera in four acts. Once a year, in autumn, a large classical music festival celebrates his legacy, by inviting some of the most prominent conductors and orchestras in the world to Bucharest.
The Museum of the National Bank of Romania showcases one of the most valuable collections of coins, some of them two and a half millennia old. The most intriguing thing about the majestic building conveniently located in Bucharest’s Old Town, is its acoustics. Designed by one of the collaborators of the French architect Charles Garnier, known for designing the Paris Opera House, this building allows for conversations exchanged in the lowest tone of voice to be heard from the balconies, serving as an incentive for the staff to always be honest.
Even if you are visiting Bucharest for only a day, make an effort and see some of the most remarkable museums in Bucharest to truly appreciate the Romanian history and culture. Grab a taxi service and make the most of your time here.