1989 The Liberation

The exhibition


The Liberation

Opening: 22 September 2018

Photo: Zafer Galibov


1989 began without announcing anything special. The routine of a regular day had been the same for decades, and millions of Romanians had abided by it, in a complete quotidian symbiosis. On one hand, there were festive collective marches and spectacles dedicated to the Communist movement, ideological speeches and sessions, five-year plans that were accomplished in four or three years. On the other, people lived in a progressive state of poverty, with food items becoming myths, hospitals that, lacking the proper equipment and technology, would often resort to the empirical treatment of patients, schools and millions of residences that did not have heating in winter or were periodically devoid of lighting.

Very few in democratic Germany, Hungary, Czechoslovakia or Poland found out about the changes that began occurring in the summer of 1989. Even Bulgaria had become more liberal regarding civil politics. Romanians lived in a complete captivity of terror. The autumn of 1989 saw the first signs of change, but they did not offer an immediate hope for liberation, especially since Nicolae Ceaușescu had prepared his re-election as General Secretary of the Romanian Communist Party during the 14th Party Congress, which took place in November 1989.

The liberation came unexpectedly, against a backdrop of civil insubordination in Timișoara and the transformation of a propagandistic rally in Bucharest, scheduled in mid-December 1989 to support the Communist Party’s ideology, into an uprising. For a few days, time was suspended in history, and an utter joy, an unmatched serenity of freedom from a captivity that had seemed unescapable, was felt.

The photographs of the present exhibition were selected to illustrate the reality of 1989, from the routine of Communist daily life to the explosion of joy and sacrifice experienced by Romanians at the end of the same year.

This exhibition continues the collaboration between the Bucharest Municipality Museum and the Museum of Secret Surveillance “House of Leaves” of Tirana, which began in the spring of 2018 through the exhibition on the Communist regime in Albania, set up in Bucharest, at Suțu Palace, by Etleva Demollari and the museum she leads.

Adrian Majuru