Text: Ilinka Zen
Photo: Facebook National Technical Museum “Prof. Eng. Dimitri Leonida”
In the spring, there was a rumor that the art museum would be closed permanently, due to financial problems. After a wave of civil society protests, a period of silence followed. The recent initiative of the three associations brings a glimmer of hope.
The triumvirate of a cultural character who, according to the admission of one of his deputies, “eats the museum on bread”, in a letter of intent addressed to the Minister of Energy, Virgil Daniel Popescu, to take over management from the movable and immovable heritage and the employees of the institution in question. “In our view, the art museum should be a channel for the promotion of Romanian technology, with an interface for the cultural and creative industries, flexible, adaptable to the museum and the technological context – more precisely, a museum that presents everything to the public,” say the initiators of the initiative.
The need to transform
The three organizations propose to transform the National Art Museum “ADG Dimitri Leonida” into a “sustainable and participatory” institution, which would put Romania on the map of countries with technological traditions, both from a historical point of view and by association with the new trends of the moment. The focus will be on the educational aspect, and the presentation of Romanian achievements will be interactive.
The initiators stress that “the initiative will represent the first serious and sustainable example from a cultural and economic point of view of public-private partnership in Romania, as a solution to preserve and reconfigure a museum at a critical moment.”
Confused legal situation
What is the legal status of the museum at the moment? “It’s straightforward, but it’s also very complex,” says Dragoy Nemo, an official at the Department for International Relations and Cultural Projects, Romania’s National Network of Museums (RNMR). “The museum has several owners on its assets: in 2005, the building was transferred by the Ministry of Economy to the State General Fund, the collection of exhibits is under the management of the Ministry of Energy, and the land belonging to the building belongs to the Bucharest City Council. To continue the suspense, Electrica Serv, which is Part of the Electrica group, it is the structure that currently manages everything that means functionality and maintenance.”
Practically, adds Dragoș Neamu, from 2005 to date Electrica Serv has secured the operating budget of the Museum Foundation in Carol I Park – to complicate matters. He notes that “the people from Electrica Serv decided that they could no longer manage the museum – but even if they could no longer manage it, they would not under any circumstances give it to anyone, not to anyone.”
The Ministry of Research has shown interest in acquiring the Art Museum, as has the Cultural Union made up of the three associations.
“At the moment, offers are on the Energy Secretary’s table. But if you ask me, I would see this museum come into a broader administrative context. If it comes to the Ministry of Research, then we consortium can also be integrated into management and maintenance, and vice versa – we invite the Ministry of Research, as well as academic specialists others, to contribute their expertise and resources so that things to work.”
An RNMR representative says the art museum cannot be closed permanently, because its exhibits are made up in a treasure chest – they are of inestimable value and cannot be categorized. “One way or another, that collection and this museum had to be taken over by someone, and the state wouldn’t let them – but the threats existed and existed at the level of the institution’s functions,” explains Dragoy Nemo.
At present, the museum operates at the limit of failure, as the scale of the staffing scheme is greatly reduced. “They do not have enough specialized people to cover the necessary organizational scheme, the salary funds are at the limit, there is no money for investments and purchases,” says Dragoy Nemo. The art museum, which was one of the founding members of RNMR, dropped out of the network, because it no longer had money even for the annual fee.
How can the organization be made more efficient? “It is complicated to talk about the museum as an economically efficient entity. Some say that museums should also have an entrepreneurial component, while others claim that the state should support them, since they are essential institutions of the nation, because they generate cultural and educational profit,” says Dragoy. Nemo. “We are inclined towards a compromise – between a classic solution, for management through the state, and a consistent entrepreneurial solution. Our union will obviously have its share of the contribution, with a business plan to attract income.”
Architect Konstantin Gwagia, a founding member of the Zeppelin Association, says that public-private partnerships can only be beneficial to everyone. “We will add enormous prestige to the ministry, and the museum will become the pearl of the polished system. The public has already shown their cultural, scientific and emotional interest in supporting this initiative.”
The pressing problems, at present, relate to building maintenance and inadequate personnel. But, very quickly, visitors will be able to notice the first changes, in a contemporary approach.
“To give a small example: we are in a deep energy crisis, and the museum has many exhibits dedicated to the history and patents relating to the production and distribution of some forms of energy. This part can be supplemented with a temporary exhibition of current affairs. The public will be able to understand some of the large ecosystems, in which energy circulates. , money, capital, politics – so things get very interesting.”
Konstantin Gwagia also believes that educational programs should be based more on the empirical aspect: “Children should not sit with their hands behind their backs and listen intently to the Roman pioneers of science, read some of the statements written on the walls, very easy to find on Wikipedia. Some things I see should be summarized Through interactive installations, so that anyone can understand the phenomenon or principle behind an engine or a machine.”
“Today, the museum is in free competition with the mall, cineplex, beach and barbecue, I’m not kidding,” says Konstantin Guajia. “It’s part of the entertainment industry, an industry that Romania began to know very well and that has very simple rules: comfort, fun, entertainment, cleanliness, diversity, tolerance, loyalty and inclusion. If you don’t play by these rules, you lose. That’s why everything matters – from how clean the door handle at the entrance to the museum is. to the texture of the paper the ticket is printed on. There are thousands of details about the museum experience that you have to master.”
All this and more requires investment, but the Cultural Federation is very confident in the resources it can unlock. “There is money for culture and antiquities, and there is potential for international cooperation that such a museum can certainly access. Part of the collection can be greatly enriched with new contributions that come as a sign of sympathy and support from these most prestigious cultural institutions of the world.”
Who are the starting entities?
The Zeppelin Society is a reference for museum organization and museum design. It is also the team with the most awards for equipping museums, the latest distinction being the DASA Award, presented by the European Museum Academy to the National Museum of Romanian Literature and the Anton Ban Memorial House.
Modulab is the only technology R&D laboratory in Romania with multidisciplinary expertise: exhibitions, technical artistic production, management of cultural projects focused on technology, development of museum facilities, industrial R&D activity.
The National Network of Museums of Romania (RNMR) is the organizer of the “Night of Museums”. Its contribution will be manifested through the transfer of knowledge, to identify the best and most innovative solutions for the benefit of the art museum’s collection.
“We not only want to show that this public-private model is functional for museum management, but also that it can be an enduring practice for managing other cultural entities.”
Dragoc Nyamu, the National Network of Museums in Romania
The duration of the museum’s repair is at least 5 years, provided that the project is implemented in phases, without closing the institution. It can be seen that the process of change should be visible, with the public having the opportunity to learn “behind the scenes” of the transformation into a community-relevant institution, says Dragoy Nemo, RNMR.