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May 19, 2022

Romanian Peasant Museum might be closed down

Controversial government resolution stipulates merger between MTR and Village Museum,
MTR’s building and land transferred to Antipa Museum

A new scandal is looming in the cultural field, two days after the unexpected Government resolution initiated by the Environment Ministry, stipulating the closing of the Romanian Peasant Museum and its merger with the Village Museum. More precisely, the bill states that the building and land of the Peasant Museum should be transferred to the Antipa Museum, all being under the authority of Environment Ministry. Moreover, the heritage and collections displayed at the Peasant Museum would be moved to the Village Museum and exhibited outdoors in Herastrau Park. The initiative caused a rift between politicians. The new Minister of Culture Gigel Stirbu is against this bill, pointing out he would not sign it, whereas Prime Minister Victor Ponta agrees with the initiative. President Traian Basescu on Tuesday asked Stirbu at the latter’s swearing-in ceremony not to carry out the merger between the Village Museum and the Romanian Peasant Museum. In reply, PM Ponta said things should be made the opposite way round. State Secretary with the Culture Ministry Radu Boroianu told Mediafax that this ministry was not the initiator of the draft law stipulating the merger, adding that he found out about this bill two days ago, while Rovana Plumb, the environment minister, the initiator of the bill, admitted that “there have been talks on this topic”, but no decision was taken.
The newly appointed minister of culture said at the swearing-in ceremony that he was not aware of this project, but he would definitely refuse to sign it. “This is an initiative of the Environment Ministry seeking to take over Antipa Museum, as well as the building of the Romanian Peasant Museum that is very close, dar este vorba numai de cladire. The heritage, the exhibits would be taken elsewhere, probably to the Village Museum or somewhere else. I absolutely disagree with that, because the Romanian Peasant Museum is an institution of culture, an emblematic institution for the spirituality of this people,” Mediafax quoted Gigel Stirbu as saying.
Former minister of culture, UDMR leader Kelemen Hunor expressed the same opinion, stating that it would be a huge mistake that would destroy both cultural institutions, also adding that he does not understand the objective of such an initiative.
Virgil Nitulescu, the director of the Bucharest-based Romanian Peasant Museum, said in an open letter extended to PM Ponta that he has been informed about the merger, stressing that the real goal is to close the museum, a real estate business being at stake most likely. “My colleagues across the entire museum network want to stage a rally nationwide and worldwide,” said Nitulescu. According to him, there have been talks before about a possible merger between the two museums, but the proposal regarded a sole leadership, not different headquarters for the Romanian Peasant Museum.
On the other hand, the leaderships of the Village Museum and Antipa Museum said they had no idea about this draft law. Director General of Antipa Museum Dumitru Murariu stated the museum held discussions with the Environment Ministry representatives who said they could help them to enlarge the space of Antipa Museum in order for the current building fronting onto the Kiseleff Avenue to be expanded towards the Ion Mihalache Boulevard, but the possibility of transferring the building hosting MTR into the administration of Antipa was never taken into consideration, because that building is not suitable for the profile of Antipa Museum. In her turn, Paulina Popoiu, directorul general of the Village Museum, said that she held no official discussions on this matter, but she pointed out that “things should carry on after conducting certain examinations”, considering the importance of the two institutions. “We received no official information, we heard only rumours,” said Popoiu pointing out that the idea “is completely absurd.”

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