The National Art Museum of Romania can be found in the center of Bucharest in a great Palace that belonged to the Royal Family of Romania. The works of art there are amazing and to visit this museum is also a good opportunity to see the architecture of one of the most famous palaces of Romania.
The history of the palace that it is now the National Art Museum of Romania
The Royal Palace of Bucharest was built as the house of a wealthy man, in 1815. In 1837, it became the Royal Residence of the ruler Alexandru Ghica. But the great construction would really shine during the reign of King Carol the first of Romania (1866-1914). Nowadays, you can see a great statue just in front of the Royal Palace depicting King Carol I on a horse.
The statue is facing the museum and the stone King looks just like he is watching proudly over his former residence.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much left inside the palace to remind of royal times. Only huge staircases, ball rooms, amazing halls and some statues give you a glimpse of what being part of a royal family meant in Bucharest at the beginning of the 20th century.
The european gallery at the National Art Museum of Romania
Once you pass the gates of the National Art Museum of Romania, hosted in the Royal Palace, you can wander around in the yard and relax on one of the benches installed there admiring the building and the surroundings.
The Royal Palace has four amazing doors. There isn’t any sign to show you where the proper entrance is but you should first go on the one on the extreme left to visit the european gallery and buy tickets. The european gallery is a very interesting journey among paintings and works of art from extremely valuable royal collections. Here you can see the works of famous painters as Jan van Eyck, Rembrandt, Monet, Claudel and many other famous painters.
The Museum’s collection of European paintings and sculptures comprises 2,742 works (2,214 paintings and 528 sculptures), and is the largest in Romania. Organized by schools, the works range in date from the fourteenth to the twentieth century.
The core of the permanent exhibition consists of the European painting collection of King Carol I, assembled mostly over the last quarter of the nineteenth century.
The amazing Romanian gallery at the National Art Museum of Romania
To get to the national art gallery you would have to come again downstairs, to the yard, and then choose the door on the extreme right. If you would hope to find something similar to the european gallery, then you are in for a big surprise. The national gallery is very very different. Inside, you can even see big chunks of old wooden churches on display.
It illustrates the way local art blended Byzantine tradition with Western elements, integrating Eastern and Western influences into a singular original synthesis. Over 9,500 works drawn from all three Romanian Principalities – Walachia, Moldavia and Transylvania – span five centuries of artistic achievement, from late fourteenth century through early nineteenth century. The patrimony include icons, fresco fragments, embroideries and textiles, illuminated manuscripts and rare books, silver, jewelry, woodcarving, metalwork, and ceramics.
You will be surprised to see here works of art very different from the west european ones. Romanian culture developed a little bit different, a little bit slower and this can be seen in the works of painters and sculptors. Romanian art is more inclined to religion, simplicity, warm colors and a unique way of depicting day-to-day moments without using nudity.
Somewhere along the way, in the national gallery, there is a room with precious medieval jewelry and ornaments. The objects on display are amazing and really well crafted for the medieval times when they were made.
When, where, how much
The National Art Museum of Romania and, of course, the Royal Palace can be found in the center of Bucharest, on Victoria’s Boulevard (the largest and oldest boulevard of Bucharest), right in the Revolution Square. It is fairly close to Bucharest Hilton Hotel or the University Square.
The fee for visiting both galleries is rather low, about 4 euros for everything. The fee for pictures is however expensive, of about 20 euros. Don’t forget to change your money into lei. It takes about two hours to visit this museum if you walk really fast through the galleries. Three hours if you “skip through” and about four hours if you linger to admire and understand the works of art.
Opening hours: Wednesday to Sunday
11.00 a.m. – 19.00 p.m. (May – September)
10.00 a.m. – 18.00 p.m. (October – April)
Closed: Monday, Tuesday, 1st and 2nd of January, the first and the second day of Easter, the first and the second day of Pentecost, 1 May, the 15th of August, 30 November, 1, 25 and 26 December
The ticket desks and the museum shop close 30 min. prior to the closing of the museum.