Brukenthalpalais_Hermannstadt1(Photo source) Very distressing (and pretty darn shameful) news today from Sibiu: The lovely Brukenthal Palace (a complex of six museums) has had to partially close its doors to the public due to lack of funds through budget cuts - according to THIS article in today's Bucharest Herald (slightly edited below), the gas has been cut off, there's one light bulb per office and the heating was switched off four days ago...

'A dramatic situation at the National Brukenthal Museum in Sibiu: The museum will be partially closed due to financial problems. The Culture Ministry announced that it has asked the museum’s manager to “immediately resign” for breaking “professional ethic” and,according to the mandate given by the ministry, for “distorting” the museum’s situation. Asked whether he would resign as requested, Sabin Luca answered in the negative, stating that he "had done his job".

“We are forced to take measures to avoid corruption or upsetting Romania’s budget balances. And honestly, it’s no joke but this is life right now - one light bulb per office will be in use at the Brukenthal National Museum. The gas has been disconnected. The heating was turned off four days ago even though the law has stipulations - a certain temperature should be registered for three consecutive days before shutting the heaters down. We are helpless since we are already in a hole, with RON 150,000 in back payments,” Sabin Luca stated on Monday. Asked whether he would resign, as the Culture Ministry representatives requested, Sabin Luca answered that he would not.

brukenthal2(Photo source) “On March 29 the secretary of state and general secretary to the Culture Ministry informed the manager of the Brukenthal Museum via communiqué that the situation had been resolved, after a supplementary allocation of RON 700,000 had been made available for the first half of 2013,” a Culture Ministry posted on the institution’s website. The communiqué criticises the fact that although the museum’s manager was informed that the situation had been resolved, the manager announced that the institution would nevertheless be partially closed.

On Monday, Dr. Sabin Luca, the director of Sibiu’s Brukenthal National Museum, announced that he had decided to temporarily block visitors’ access to the ground floor of the Brukenthal Palace where the museum is located, but also to the History Museum’s “Thesaurus” exhibition, due to shortage of funds. The museum had received only RON 21,000 for March from the Culture Ministry he said, while it needed approximately ten times that sum - approximately RON 204,000.

brukenthal3(Photo source) According to a multi-annual report posted on the institution’s website, the Brukenthal National Museum was visited by 77,545 people in 2006, 245,067 in 2007 when Sibiu was the European Capital of Culture, and by 378,181 in 2012. The museum was in fourth place at national level last year, behind Bran Castle, the “Astra” Sibiu National Museum Centre and the Antipa Museum.'

Samuel von Brukenthal, the Habsburg governor of Transylvania, established the first of the museum's collections in around 1790 which were officially opened to the public in 1817, making this lovely old museum the oldest institution of its kind in Romania.... Built between 1778-1788 as a private home, the modern day museum complex is home to over 1000 works of art by artists such as Van Mieris, Carriera, da Cadore, Raoux and Titian, and often include contemporary works commissioned by local artists especially for the museum.

brukenthal6(Photo source) Sibiu is one of the most important cultural centres of Romania and, in tandem with the city of Luxembourg, was designated European Capital of Culture in 2007. Formerly the centre of the Transylvanian Saxons, the old city of Sibiu was ranked as "Europe's 8th most idyllic place to live" by Forbes. Rich with architectural mixes of Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Art Nouveau, Sibiu is a bijou of a city with its small theatres, cellar bars, jazz hubs and cosy underground venues.

As well as being known for the oldest museum in the country (I could literally weep..), Sibiu was also home to the first hospital in Romania (1292), the first pharmacy (1494) and the printing of the first book in the Romanian language (1544).

The ministry of culture should be ashamed of itself trying to palm blame off onto Dr Luca. And where is the Mayor of Sibiu in all this? He hasn't been mentioned in any of the articles I have seen reporting on the closure, though maybe I missed some. This beautiful museum, one of the country's very finest (if not THE), is a true jewel in the rapidly disintegrating crown of Romania. To have poured so much money into Sibiu in 2007 so that tourists would see it gleaming, what about those tourists who continue to return? Don't they count for anything? And art/history-loving Romanians themselves? How about them? More heritage under the axe? Yet more? Indeed, the ministry of culture ought to be ashamed.

Reduced funds? No money? There is PLENTY of money to build roads no one wants; demolish patrimony; construct that hideous, useless cathedral in the Casa Nebunului's back garden; commission tasteless statues; dig tunnels and generally pay out to transform Little Paris into Little Kaboul, but there is NO money to preserve Romania's oldest museum? How utterly shameful. It is past sad. It is, frankly, odious.

brukenthal4brukenthal5(Photos source) Dr Luca has called on the community to help save the museum, obviously unconvinced he's going to get any aid from the ministry of culture... 'We do not want to beg,' he said, 'but please support us.' He has suggested that people buy some of the 500 Brukenthal products on sale (rather than 'giving money away') in the gift shop which could help bolster the desperately needed funds. Amongst the products on offer: chocolate, wine, champagne, CDs, posters and mugs. He has also asked the gas and electricity companies to hold off until summertime when he hopes he will be in a better position to pay their outstanding invoices. These pleas for help don't sound as though they come from a man who is inept nor one who should resign, but a man who cares very deeply for keeping the Brukenthal Museum alive for many years to come. They are pleas from the heart and I hope very much that they will be heard.

brukenthal4(Photo: Sarah In Romania)