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December 9, 2022

Cotroceni National Museum recreates Coronation celebration atmosphere from 100 years ago

The ‘Coronation Celebrations’ exhibition opened on Saturday in the medieval spaces of Bucharest’s Cotroceni National Museum; the display designed according to a modern concept that combines heritage items with interactive video installations showcases the landmark moment in Romanian history – King Ferdinand I and Queen Maria’s coronation as Greater Romania sovereigns, on October 15, 1922.

“On the 100th anniversary of the coronation of King Ferdinand I and Queen Maria, the Cotroceni National Museum invites the public to a one-of-a-kind exhibition modeled according to the newest cultural paradigms and which combines heritage items, period films and photographs with video and 3D projections in an attempt to recreate the atmosphere of those days. Our project presents the festivities in Alba Iulia, the events organized in Bucharest, with an emphasis on the Cotroceni Palace, as well as the underlying concepts for the construction of the Coronation Cathedral and the creation of the royal mantles and crowns. As important cultural institutions throughout the country mark this historic moment, we send our congratulations for the exceptional events they organized,” general director of the Cotroceni National Museum, Ana-Maria Ludatser, told AGERPRES.

The Cotroceni Museum’s scientific director, historian Stefania Dinu, characterizes the exhibition as “a history lesson for the young generation”.

“It is, first of all, a history lesson for the young generation. Because everything that was achieved back then was the result of a massive sacrifice of blood. During WWI many young people lost their lives, many children were left orphans… These aspects must be remembered, they must be taught in school and must be lived somehow, and the Coronation Centennial now comes to confirm the fact that everything is built on a sacrifice which, had our predecessors not made it, we, the people of nowadays, would not have been able to enjoy what we experience today,” Dinu told AGERPRES.

Bianca Maria Balsan, head of cultural and educational programs with the Cotroceni National Museum, says that “the exhibition is based on a concept centered on the symbolism and the way how each element in the three days of celebration 100 years ago was designed so as to reflect the shared history of the Romanian provinces, as well as the personality of the sovereigns of Greater Romania”.

“Our goal is to immerse the visitors into that festive atmosphere, this is why each exhibition hall reflects different moments of the three days. In the first hall, where we present the moment of the Coronation, the official and religious ceremonial of that day, we put in the foreground the royal mantles, the crowns and the scepter; then we have the celebration in Alba Iulia and the military parade, when the Romanians were finally able to rejoice after the First World War, including the moment of the flypast of 20 airplanes over the crowds,” said Balsan.

The second hall, Balsan explains, is dedicated to the second day, with the return of the sovereigns to Bucharest, illustrated by the presentation of the military procession that started from the Mogosoaia Rail Station and ended at the Metropolitan Church, and of the historical allegorical parade.

“It reflected the entire history of the Romanian provinces by means of the allegorical floats that brought to the attention of the Romanians of 100 years ago the moments the Romanian provinces shared along their history. The royal lunch is also presented at the exhibition,” the museum expert mentioned.

The third hall is dedicated to the ceremony at the Roman Arenas in Bucharest, when the sovereigns put on their Coronation robes again and stepped in front of the 10,000 mayors from all the Romanian provinces wearing the royal crowns.

“We are happy to also present the few Coronation moments preserved on film, because we tried to illustrate how the news of the Coronation reached Romanians from all corners of the country,” added Bianca Maria Balsan.

Creative director of the ‘Coronation Celebrations’ exhibition, Constantin Goagea, told AGERPRES that the show is, first of all, a narrative.

“We wanted to reflect the entire event of the Coronation, which lasted for three days. We very much enjoyed getting into the story, into this narrative, which is the exhibition’s guiding line. In fact, what we did was to blow up the very small photographs of the time, which are like an unrolled film, into very large sequences, a kind of director’s cut. We managed to colorize the photographs and enlarge them; thanks to the historians’ contribution we could be very accurate. I think it’s wonderful that we have Queen Maria’s very detailed report about the clothes they wore and the colors they had, about the decorations, about the texture and light. Based on all these details we managed to readjust, nuance and restyle those colors,” Goagea explained.

He showed that the moments of the three days of the Coronation evoked in the exhibition – the 20 aircraft flying in the sky at Alba Iulia, the military parade in Bucharest in a torrential rain, the clatter of horses’ hooves on the cobblestones and the cheers of the crowd at the Roman Arenas that covered the brass band, the roars of applause which accompanied the royal speech – are illustrated by means of a sound and light installation.

“All these anecdotal moments, this narrative is rendered through these installations. Each one has a small model and a video projection. There is a small video poem for each moment,” said Constantin Goagea.

The exhibition was mounted with the support of the Presidential Administration, in partnership with the National History Museum of Romania, the Peles National Museum, the Bucharest Municipal Museum, the Prahova County Museum of History and Archeology, the Museum of St. Nicholas Church in Brasov – the First Romanian School, the Costin Petrescu and Daniel Obreja Memorial House.

The exhibition is open until February 26, 2023, Tuesday through Sunday between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., only by prior appointment at the e-mail address vizitare@muzeulcotroceni.ro or phone numbers 021.317.31.07/0725.518.381. During the exhibition, the museum will also organize a series of events to which students of Bucharest’s high schools and primary schools will be invited.

The symbolic birth of Greater Romania was confirmed on October 15, 1922, in Alba Iulia, through the coronation of King Ferdinand I and Queen Maria. The ceremonies organized in the city at the heart of Transylvania, and the celebrations that followed in Bucharest on October 16 and 17 marked the fulfillment of the centuries-old dream of uniting all Romanians under one crown.

The Coronation celebrations were seen as a way to honor, after the suffering and despair of the years of war, the triumph of Romania and the accomplishment of the national ideal of the reunification of all Romanians. The lavish coronation ceremony was completed by popular celebrations organized in Alba Iulia and Bucharest, with hundreds of thousands of participants.

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