The Romanian National Art Museum, former Royal Palace, is a sumptuous neoclassical edifice, housing one of the most valuable art collections in Romania. It has different galleries (Old Romanian Art, Modern Romanian Art, European Art), all including thousands of priceless works by Romanian or international artists such as El Greco, Rembrandt, Rubens, Nicolae Grigorescu or Constantin Brâncuși.
The Royal Palace was built in 1820 by the boyar Dinicu Golescu as his dwelling and transformed into a palace by Prince Alexandru Ghica. Since 1859 it was inhabited by A.I. Cuza, ruler of Moldavia and Wallachia, until 1866, when Carol I of Hohenzollern was installed. During his reign, King Carol I substantially modified the palace’s structure, enlarging it and introducing electricity. Between 1930 and 1937, during the reign of King Carol II, the palace includes for the first time spaces designed for an exhibition, in order to present the art collection of the Romanian Crown. However, the museum’s first gallery, the National Art one, is inaugurated not sooner than 1950. In the following years, the Universal Art and Old Romanian Art galleries are successively inaugurated. In 1989, during the Romanian Revolution, the palace is damaged in proportion of 80%, and over 1,000 important pieces are damaged or destroyed. Since 1990, when the building is attributed to the Romanian National Art Museum, and until 2000, when it was open to the public, the museum underwent ample works of renovation.
The European Art gallery includes over 2,700 paintings and sculptures, being the most important collection in Romania in what regards the value and number of works. It illustrates the period between the 14th and 20th century and comprises works belonging to great artists from the most important schools in Europe: Italian (Tintoretto), Dutch (Rembrandt), Flemish (Rubens), German, French (Dubois, Monet, Rodin) and Spanish (El Greco).
The Old Romanian Art gallery exhibits a selection of 900 objects from the over 9,500 items it includes, representative for the artistic development of the three historical regions (Transylvania, Moldavia and Wallachia) during the 14th – 19th centuries. It comprises several collections, from religious items (icons, frescoes, embroideries, manuscripts) to ornaments (silverware, adornments, wood carvings, stone sculptures and ceramics).
The Modern Romanian Art is the most encompassing section, as it counts over 8,700 paintings and 2,100 sculptures. The visitor follows a chronological route of the local artistic tendencies from the beginning of the 19th century to the epoch of the great classics of the Romanian art (Nicolae Grigorescu, Ioan Andreescu, Ştefan Luchian, Constantin Brâncuşi, Dimitrie Paciurea) and to the contemporary art.
You can also visit the Lapidarium and the Graphic Art cabinet. The Lapidarium exhibits grave stones, monumental columns and column heads which illustrate the artistry of the Wallachian stonemasons. The Graphic Art cabinet includes over 17,000 drawings and 40,000 engravings belonging to Romanian artists (Aman, Grigorescu, Luchian, Pallady) and European artists (Delacroix, Bourdelle, Matisse).
Summer schedule (May – September)
Wednesday – Sunday: 11:00 – 19:00
Winter schedule (October – April)
Wednesday – Sunday: 10:00 – 18:00
European Art Gallery: 8 lei
National Gallery: 10 lei
Combined ticket (European Art Gallery + National Gallery): 15 lei
Pupils, students, seniors, Euro 26 card holders: 50% discount (with valid cards)
Free: every first Wednesday of the month
How to get there:
By metro: Get off the metro at the Piaţa Romană or Universitate stations, depending on where you are coming from.
By bus: Take bus #178 to Palace Hall (Ştirbei Vodă)station, buses #126 or #368 to Luterană station, buses #122, #268, #300 or #368 to N. Bălcescu Blvd or buses #122, #137, #336 or #601 to Cişmigiu Park or Universitate stations.
By trolley: Take trolleys #61, #66, #69, #70, #85, #90, #91 or #92 to Cişmigiu Park or Universitate stations.