The Bucharest Municipal Museum. A Brief History


The Bucharest Municipality Museum came into being towards the end of June 1921, through a Bucharest Communal Council Decision, at the request of Mayor Gh. Gheorghian, but the lack of cultural heritage collections postponed the Decision’s implementation. Subsequently, the City Hall began organizing the inventorying and gathering of collections, as well as searches for headquarters suitable for the museum, an activity which gained momentum only after 1926. D. Rosetti’s donation of July 1929 became the core nucleus for the Prehistoric section. On the 31st of July 1929, the museum acquired exhibition spaces in a building at No. 115 Moşilor Avenue, at the crossroad with the Carol I Boulevard, a building currently no longer standing, where an archaeological discoveries exhibition was set up.

In February 1930, the Communal Council agreed that the museum would carry out its activity in Moruzi House, at No. 117 Victoria Avenue, also known as “The Chain House” – a historical monument built towards the end of the 18th century and torn down in 1941.

The actual grand opening of the museum took place on the 22nd of November 1931, in the company of Prime Minister Nicolae Iorga, City Mayor Dem. I. Dobrescu, former Mayors Matei Gh. Corbescu and Emil Petrescu, and the first Director of the museum, the well-known collector Dr. George Severeanu.  The Prehistoric archaeology, History, Numismatic and Para-numismatic collections were hosted within the Moruzi House. The Numismatic collection encompassed 4000 Antique and medieval coins, being largely composed of the personal collection of Doctor G. Severeanu and Romulus P. Voinescu’s donation. Dr. George Severeanu was the head of the Municipal Museum between March 24th 1931 and August 1938. The Museum flourished under his guidance. The institution’s cultural heritage collections grew as a result of archaeological research, donations and acquisitions. The Museum was closed due to the damage its building suffered as a result of the Autumn 1940 earthquake. Its collections were moved in buildings on Ştirbei Vodă Street, at No. 34 and 47.

In 1942, the Bucharest City Hall acquired the building at No. 151 Victoria Avenue (the Filipescu-Cesianu House) for the museum, where the entire cultural heritage was later on stored. Currently the building has been consolidated and will soon open to the public as a museum. In the aftermath of the war, the Filipescu-Cesianu House was turned into a hospital, while the collections were packed and stored away in a few rooms. The most valuable pieces at the time were evacuated in 1944 and transported to the Raznic commune, in Dolj County, where they were kept until 1948. Between 1948 and 1950 the museum was temporarily relocated at the National Art and Archaeology Museum at No. 3 Kiseleff Road. The museum later on returned to the Filipescu-Cesianu House, were it remained closed to the public, in order to reorganise the collections.

On the 5th of May 1956, the Archaeology and History Museum of Bucharest had its named changed to the Bucharest City History Museum. That same year, on the 14th of June, the “Numismatic Exhibition” opened to the public, at No. 21 Ana Ipătescu Boulevard, on the building’s first floor which also housed the Experimental Sciences Museum. On November 6th 1956, the “Maria and Dr. George Severeanu” collection opened to visitors in a building at No. 26 of the street formerly known as I. C. Frimu, where the donors’ families lived.

On the 10th of December 1956 the museum acquired Suţu Palace (the current administrative headquarters of the institution, now hosting the base exhibition “The Time of the City”. On the occasion of the Moldavia and Wallachia Union Centennial, January 23rd 1959, the Museum also celebrated its grand opening in this new building. At that time, the base exhibition was kept in 14 halls, arranged according to the timeline and succession of the city’s historical events. The Suţu Palace is one of the oldest aristocratic residences of Bucharest and one of the few buildings that has remained unchanged for more than 150 years. It was built by Costache Suţu between 1833 and 1835, following the architectural plans of Conrad Schwink and Johann Veit.

Following the union of the history and art departments in 1984, the Bucharest Municipality Art and History Museum is born.

On the 21st of October 1999, following a Decision issued by the Bucharest City General Council, the institution regains its founding name - the Bucharest Municipality Museum.