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National Museum of Art
Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrAs you walk on the bohemian Victory Lane (Calea Victoriei), the colossal building of the National Art Museum dominates the street with monarchic authority. Located right in the center of Bucharest, the museum is not only an important objective of art, but a significant architectural edifice, being placed in the former Royal Palace.
HistoryThe Royal Palace was built in 1837 by Alexandru Ghica, ruler of Wallachia, as a transformation of an old boyar family house built on what was then the outskirts of Bucharest. During the reign of Alexandru Ioan Cuza, the second story was added.
The current aspect is the result of many radical transformations undertaken during the reign and under the personal guidance of Kings Carol I and Carol II, who initiated reconstruction works for the palace.
In 1948, after the institution of the communist regime, the palace became the National Art Museum, and with the exception of ten years of renovations, it functioned as such ever since.
ArchitectureRegarding its architecture, the palace is the last European exemplary of its type. It features a double evolution: the local one, in the Neo-Classical style, and the continental one, in the eclectic style, specific to late monarchies like Greece and Norway.
The palace was completely finished in 1937, following the plans of Nicolae Nenciulescu. The construction is shaped in U-form, with an inner courtyard and two entrances on the facade: the left one was for the king and his guests, and the right one for the dignitaries. The entrance leads to an octagonal lobby on the left side, decorated in Neo-Byzantine style, ending in the Guest Stair. On the right side, the Official Lobby leads to the old throne room through the Voyvode Stair - a masterpiece recovered from the old palace. On the side of the stair unfolds a row of paired columns, vaulted by a painted dome with relief medallions at the base, depicting the most important Romanian voivodes . The throne room measures 1,000 square meters and is 12 meters high, covered by a semi-elliptical arch, which rests on the corintic pillars.
The central body, set between the two access points marked by engaged columns, is treated with a 6 bay column, slightly detached from the wall plane. The shape of the columns can be seen again at the junctions of the two main wings (Creţulescu and Athenaeum), detaching from the rest of the facade with their ungrooved pillars. For symmetrical considerations, the Creţulescu wing, which doesn't hint at hosting the royal apartments, is identical to the Athenaeum wing.
Stylistically, the classic influences dominate the decor in features of Romantic, Gothic, Renaissance, and Classicism. The materials used were all natural: marble, stone, exotic wood, and bronze. Eclecticism can be observed in the ornamental elements: painted wood, gilded stucco, special forged chandeliers, and numerous impressionist paintings.
VisitingThe rich and varied patrimony hosted in the museum is organized in two galleries: the European Art Gallery, and the National Gallery, which contains the Romanian Old Art Gallery, and the Romanian Modern Art Gallery. At the core of the European Art Gallery is Carol's art collection. The exhibits represent the main artistic schools: German, Italian, Austrian, Spanish, Flemish, Dutch, and French.
Artists like Tintoretto, Cranach the Old; Breughel the Young, El Greco; Rembrandt, Rubens; Monet, and Rodin offer a glimpse into the artistic universe of the last four centuries. The Old Art Gallery includes pieces from the historical provinces (Wallachia, Moldavia, and Transylvania) from the 16th century onward, including fresco fragments, icons, manuscripts, wood and stone sculptures, embroideries, and gold work. The gallery also contains a treasure, with cult and secular exhibits from precious metals. The Modern Art Gallery contains paintings and sculptures from the beginning of the 19th century until the middle of the 20th. Romanian art is represented by Theodor Aman, Nicolae Grigorescu; Ştefan Luchian, Nicolae Tonitza; Theodor Pallady, Constantin Brâncuşi and many more.
If visiting, you can choose from a wide field of thematic activities and workshops. The tickets are priced at 10 RON ($2.50) ( €2 ($2.30)) for the National Gallery (including the treasure), and 8 RON ($2.00) for the European Art Gallery. A ticket for both is 15 RON ($3.75), and students and seniors benefit from a 50% discount. Every first Wednesday of the month, the entrance is free.
How to Get ThereYou can reach the National Gallery by subway (Universitate station), by bus: 178 (Sala Palatului station), 126, 368 (Luterană station), 122, 268, 300, 368 (Cişmigiu station), 122, 137, 336, 601 (Universitate station), and by trolley: 61, 66, 69, 70, 85, 90, 91, 92 (Universitate, Cişmigiu stations).
Other AttractionsAs you look across the plaza upon exiting the National Museum, you will see the dome and columns of the Romanian Athenaeum, one of the most unique and pompous buildings in Bucharest, and home to the Romanian Philharmonic Orchestra. If you don't attend a concert, you should at least enter the Athenaeum, as its architecture and especially interior decoration is breathtaking.
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Author: aelumag. Last updated: Sep 18, 2014