Exploring Bucharest for WAM16

Exploring Bucharest for WAM16

August 10, 2015 by Claire Solery
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Hello everyone, it has been a bit since we were active on the blog, but for a good reason might we add. The WAM Team just spent a week in Bucharest four our first We Are Museums 2016 edition field trip. That’s right we are going east again!
Many connections, meetings and ideas came from this journey in Romania, some we can share already with you, readers and museum lovers. Taking a dive into a whole new culture -albeit strangely familiar- here are the highlights of our week in Bucharest!

#MuseumCrawl, come rain or come shine + Instagram pics

For those who did not know, Museum Crawl Berlin (get the #museumcrawlberlin map here) was incepted by Diane Drubay, the founder of WAM in an attempt to get to know our 2015 hosting city and its cultural offer as well as to quench her thirst for museums...if that is ever possible. While Diane walked tirelessly in Berlin, we figured we should do the same in Bucharest, a city essentially unknown to us.

Our #wambag sitting smugly next to butterflies at the Antipa Natural History Museums

And boy did we crawl, although my better half would object that we did not do enough. Granted, she has longer legs and a stronger willpower under a heatwave. In 5 opening days we explored 13 museums (plus the National Library), diverse in their collections, time period and offerings.

You  find them all on Instagram under #museumcrawlbucharest. The only thing we know now is how much we have left to visit when we come back in September.

Truly it’s a lot of walking and you have to have some #museumjunkie inclination, but you get a sense of place in no time and as your perspective becomes broader and richer by the hour.  A truly rewarding experience.

The Contemporary Art Museum, inserted in the former People’s Palace, today the Romanian Parliament

It’s not just about museums, it’s about place. It is particularly accurate in Bucharest, which bears witness to so many historical layers, traumas and finally the energy to move forward.

More than just taking pretty pictures for Instagram and finding hidden gems, #museumcrawl -ing means embracing the lesser-known and putting it on the map.

So whether or not you have a precise method for your #museumcrawl, do it and share it!

Memorial houses are so good

Constantin Brancusi is likely to be the Romanian artist you will know, but hang out in museum collections and you will find other loveable names like sculptor Dimitrie Paciurea , paintress Cecilia Storck or almost contemporary Mircea Marosin and so many more.

But Memorial houses also do a great job at keeping cultural heritage alive. As the former communist regime claimed the take down of many a beautiful villa, it is even more precious to enter artists’ houses as old as 1760 (as is the Theodor Pallady House for instance).

The Storck House-Museum

Not only that but they relay stories with minimal mediation (although more content in English - and French- can only do good!) and give you an extra sense of connection to the city.

Google, please do a better job at referencing memorial houses, because we love them!

It is all about the ecosystem, people

We Are Museums is about occasions as much as it is about strict planning. It started with a encounter with a city (Vilnius) and blossomed with further unique encounters. We travel across the world but we also love to understand how one place works and how it feels museum-wise. Glocal is the fancy term for it, I reckon.

With Bucharest, one thing that has been key are the people who convinced us to come and are helping us to make this an event truly profitable for their ecosystem and ours. As Dragos and Raluca Neamu -respectively Manager of the National Network of Romanian Museums and Trainer at National Institute for Cultural Research and Training) drove us through the city (when we wen’t walking, see above), we were able to meet instrumental people in a record time.

At Seneca Cafe

Aside from potential venues, we got the occasion to sit with Seneca lovers in a gem of an anti-café, got a taste of the artist squat at Carol 53, met with Maria from The Institute, creative movers and shakers, sat for a brainstorming at Fabrica, a fomer factory turned club and creative venue, marvelled at the beauty of auction house Artmark Palace, and got inspiration breakthroughs at Carturesti Verona, a dreamy combo of a bookshop and a garden-restaurant, brought to you by two of Romania’s young entrepreneurs and whizz kids.

We also visited Halele Carol (also known as Carol Factory), half a factory in activity (yes, you’ve heard right), half a cultural hotspot for concerts and festivals. What can we say, it looks realer than all the post-undustrials cultural revamps we’ve ever seen. We mean that in a good way.

Carol Factory

We were fed, info, stats, creativity, opportunities and passion. So much actually what we have added a third day to the conference….Details to come soon!

 

Wifi everywhere, for real

Now, you will be disappointed if you don’t find some, but for real, it is very easy to get wifi across the city and in museums (except for rare cases). I really don’t envision walking in a lapidarium in France and, boom, wifi. But at the National Museums of Romanian History it is the case. As wifi penetration is the second best in Europe just short of Finland, and one of the fastest worldwide, thus sort of making up for poor internet access at home. Opportunities for apps really seem like the way forward.

We spotted one bilingual project, “Museums and Collections of Romania”, an initiative supported by National Heritage Institute and ICOM Romania to centralise info on 900+ museums across the country and show iconic pieces on Ios and Android. It was launched already two years ago, so, time to follow up.

 

Stay fresh, always

Apparently, early June is ideal to hold an event weather-wise. But in the last days of July, you sure need to watch your hydration, especially if you are going to work and walk extensively. Your best friend and ally will soon become lemonades and fruit cocktails, 100% guaranteed.

Grab one lemonade in the flavour you want (mint, mango, watermelon, you name it) served in a lovely small water jug with a straw or a heanvely mix of fruits anywhere and even on a Saturday night! Here we are at Eden, yet another incredible place right in the center of Bucharest which is one big illuminated garden sipping our fruit cocktails...on a Saturday night….like everyone else there.

Gradina Eden

So, will you join us next June in Bucharest? We hope we made our point, but look ford to more articles and contents as we progress towards D-Day!