Astra Museum 10

A barrier-free cultural Romania. Museums for all

It is fair to say that Romania is unlikely to enroll on the shortlist of European best museums, yet it surprises many visitors with the energy of some wonderful buildings that house exciting collections. Here are some museums that offer a unique experience to all visitors based on their commitment to make exhibitions as accessible as possible.

The first thing to say about Grigore Antipa Museum of Natural History is how exceptional this achievement is among Romania’s finest museums. It welcomes all visitors to be inspired by the terrific collection of dinosaur skeletons and the incredible animal and plant life that has been filling Romania’s territory since unmemorable times. The museum was set-up by Romanian naturalist Grigore Antipa in the spirit of collecting, cataloguing and interpreting the natural world.

Starting with 2012, visitors with special needs were able to use all their senses to explore the permanent exhibition. To facilitate the visit of persons with mobility impairments, the museum disposes of ramps located outside the building, rest rooms for persons with special needs. Wheelchair access is unrestricted only on the ground floor where you can peek into the entire world biodiversity.

The museum was equipped with Braille explanations, comprehensive audio descriptions and tangible artefacts. The exhibition takes you from the stony touch of the oldest fossils to the complex and diverse life pattern of vertebrates.

The Museum of Natural History in Sibiu offers yet another encounter with Romanian passion for naturalism. It provides full access for wheelchairs on all floors, allowing everyone to imagine the work of an explorer through an impressive tri-dimensional display of the live world, ecosystems or paleontological items. One of the most thrilling encounters includes the full-sized replicas of dinosaurs that are scattered throughout the museum’s garden.

The National Art Museum of Romania exhibits hundreds of Romanian, European and Oriental art objects with the purpose of piecing together a fascinating picture of the human’s exhilarating creativeness. Located in the former Royal Palace in Bucharest, the museum is committed to making its art collections accessible to all gallery-goers, including the visually and hearing impaired. Tactile diagrams are being constantly added to translate paintings into a tactile language, in order to push visual art beyond sight and to create a beautiful gallery that people will feel good in.

The Palace of the Parliament, or the People’s House, is indisputably opulent, with an oddness that has to be acknowledged. Starting this summer, the building is 100% accessible for wheelchair users due to small adjustments. Through the power of architecture, objects and spaces, the building will provoke your thought, unsettle emotions and deliver a certain historical and political opinion about Romania. The colossal and magnificent-looking construction is undoubtedly a major attraction for tourists, and there’s definitely a degree of majesty in the ascent and descent through the palace’s levels.                

The palace also hosts the National Museum of Contemporary Art which displays temporary exhibitions of eclectic art. The art gallery was opened for all visitors who appreciate or wish to improve their understanding of present-day art, through a diverse interplay of objects and experiences that may seem confusing at first.

Romania has several folk and ethnographic museums which attract visitors through color, patterns and vibe, especially nowadays when people find making things by hand incredibly appealing. The Museum of the Romanian Peasant is part of a larger project – ‘Feel the Art’ – which intends to open museums to people with special needs. Currently under renovation, it’s accessible only on the ground floor, offering only a brief glimpse of traditional crafts worth reviving like woodworking, pottery and textiles.

The National Village Museum exhibits vernacular architecture from all over Romania. There is much ground to cover along alleys that allow visitors in wheelchair to watch intriguing displays of homesteads, churches, workshops and windmills. Even if you won’t be able to go into these dwellings, it is a place for celebrating and exploring the magic of architectural creativeness, where a certain timelessness can be experienced.

The ASTRA Museum of Traditional Folk Civilization is a must on your ethnographic destinations list, being located close to Sibiu. The open air museum covers 40 hectares which makes it the largest open air ethnographic exhibition in Europe. Placed in a wonderful landscape, it is designed as a living museum that hosts numerous traditional fairs, folk festivals, workshops that will give you a certain sense of Romanian rural places.

As we’ve seen, Romania is on its way to restating the modern purpose of its museums, which is to inspire all people to explore the most captivating creations of nature, the delightful array of emotions stirred up by art collections, as well as the twists and turns of Romanian history.