Founded in 1906 by Alexandru Tzigara Samurcaş, its main purpose was to show the Peasant as a symbol of endurance and to promote folk traditions and customs, in response to the ever-growing pressure of industrial made products. This particular type of museography brought the museum the honor of receiving the EMYA Award-European Museum of the year, in 1996, thus welcoming the National Museum into the grand family of European.
This history begins before the institutional founding of the museum, just after the Union of the Romanian Principalities. In this period of national rebirth, the Peasant becomes a symbolic reference of Romanian identity and the peasant culture slowly unravels itself to bourgeoisie. In order to give a push to the 'domestic industry' which was suffering from the foreign products competition (quite fashionable at the time, being industrially manufactured) Al. I. Cuza gives a decree in 1863 that exhibitions will be held in which traditional folk products will be promoted. Thus, on the 20th of may 1863, the 'National Exhibition from Mosii of cows, flowers, vegetables, agricultural and industrial products' is opened, under the supervision of Ion Ionescu of Brad. The first private collections appear, as well as national exhibitions and Romania's participation to universal exhibitions. The issue of a national museum begins to present itself, a place to host the artistic byproduct of the Romanian folk. 'In order to have a family tree, first, one must appoint some ancestors.' -Irina Nicolau noted, telling the history of the National Museum of the Romanian Peasant. And this far away ancestor was the National Museum of Antiquities (founded in 1864 by the same Al. I. Cuza). It is here in 1875, at the proposition of Titu Maiorescu, that “a special section in which homemade works of textile art: clothes, carpets, silks,drapes etc.”. The exhibits were provided, in their majority by the collection of lieutenant-colonel Dimitrie Pappasoglu, which already organized in 1864, a small museum in a pavilion of his home. A series of objects from the MŢR collection date from that period.
However, these first attempts were made disorderly and without any museographical vision, which forces Tzigara Samurcaş to rhetorically ask himself: “Are we worthy of a national museum?” and to try for his entire lifetime to answer affirmatively to the question and to turn this wish into reality in the form of a “truly national museum”. Its first form was that of “The Museum of Ethnography, National Art, Decorative Art and Industrial Art” –a name which Tzigara-Samurcaş considered “lax and futile denominator”. The vision regarding the arrangement and the mission of such an establishment will settle in time, made evident by the change of name from ' Museum of Ethnography and National Art ” into “The Museum of National Art Carol I”. Peasant art became national!
Truly, the Museum of the Romanian Peasant is not an ethnographic museum in the classical sense. Quite the contrary. 'We shall study the village, the actual man, the peasant as he is' - Bernea declared - ' but we will understand what happened only if we have it well configured, inside the museum, the 'model' of the traditional village'. Open to changes and always contemporary, even outrageously so for the classically trained museum curators, the National Museum of the Romanian Peasant manages to keep itself firmly entrenched into this archetype. Thus, it is not only a 'society museum' which explicitly shows the life and the creations of the peasant communities from various areas and essential epochs of the country, but it is about that what Irina Nicolau called 'the traditional man' and Gabriel Liiceanu considers to be ' that universality of human types that the peasant represents'. The Museum of the Romanian Peasant is the museum of timeless spirituality, of which its founders were evidently attached and which they proposed as a possible reference point for the actual world. On another aspect, it is by its cycle of ancient or recent collections through its traditional trade fairs, through the diversity of its cultural actions (book-releases, debates, concerts and collocutional discussions, cultural evenings etc.) the National Museum of the Romanian Peasant is permanently up to date.
Muzeul Naţional al Ţăranului Român
Admission Adult: 8 RON | Child, Student: 2 RON | Senior 4 RON