MTR(Photo source) Yet another vicious beating from Romanian authorities, this time aimed at the Romanian Peasant Museum (Muzeul Ţăranului Român - MTR)...

PM Victor Pontaur is all for an absurd draft resolution dreamed up by the Sinister of the Environment PSD-ist Rovana Plumb (all those out in the streets protesting against the RMGC project and fracking know her only too well) to move the nearby Grigore Antipa Museum of Natural History there, thus destroying MTR and its grounds as we know it. Actually, it destroys two museums in one fell swoop. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, neither culturally nor financially, and has been vehemently denounced by Muzeul Ţăranului Român's Director Stephen Virgil Niţulescu, who has addressed this open letter to the PM. In it, he says that such an act would "destroy an institution fundamental to the Romanian soul" - an error that would be manifest of the "communist regime."

This comes after 13 million euros was spent on Antipa's entire recent renovation. It was reopened in September 2011.

Grigore Antipa and MTR are the two most popular museums in the whole of Romania - and the most researched on Google in 2013 - but since when did common sense ever have anything to do with the price of fish, for goodness sake?

rovana-plumb-sinistra-mediului(Photo source) What's the point of such a monstrous attack on Romania's culture, you'll be asking. Aren't we all. Clearly, this wonderful new space one now finds at Antipa has plenty of promise for Plumb and her ministry. She wants it for herself. A cultural hub that is successful and always full whenever I have visited is wasted as a museum in her opinion. So, shove everything into the site of today's lovely Muzeul Ţăranului Român (MTR), move all those collections to The Village Museum (Muzeul Naţional al Satului) near Park Herăstrău, thus eradicating MTR entirely. Gata. Another great day's work.

Unsurprisingly and just as you'd expect, the two 'new' museums will come under the Ministry of the Environment. Ponta has commissioned Gigel Stirbu, the new Minister of Culture, to handle the project. Ponta's explanation for the change in ministry is related to the Ministry of the Environment's access to EU funds, whereas the Culture Ministry has none. See THIS very good article (in Romanian) for more on EU funds v Culture.

During Gigel's recent swearing in as Minister of Culture, President Traian Basescu advised him against the merging.

"Merge them!" was Ponta's uncompromising (and as usual, elegant) reply.

Paulina Popoiu, general manager of the Muzeul Naţional al Satului, told AFP that nobody had spoken to her at all about the merger project with MTR, and that if it were to go ahead, it would be far from an easy task.

save mtr(Photo source) Bucharest's beloved MTR was founded in 1906 under a royal decree signed by King Carol I as a Museum of Ethnography, National and Decorative Art and Industrial Art and was closed during the communist period. On 15th February 1990, the then-Culture Minister Andrei Plesu named painter Horia Bernea director of MTR. In 1996, the museum won the EMYA - European Museum of the Year Award. Over the years, it has flourished not only as a museum within itself, but also as a culture centre for conferences, exhibitions, book launches, concerts and hosts folkloric and traditional crafts festivals. The museum itself documents Romania's fascinating rural past - colourful costumes, hand-painted pottery and a complete 18th-century wooden church. A separate section documents collectivisation in communist Romania.

Clubul Taranului Roman 04(Photo source: Clubul Taranului Roman) This is yet another wilful act to destroy Romania's culture, already in the throes of what seems to be purposeful dismantlement. It is certainly not the first time museums are targeted, see HERE and HERE. This most recent development was decided with NO public debate. So much for transparency. Puiu Haşotti (PNL leader in the Senate) has likened it to being on a parallel with Ceausescu and his monstrous destruction of Bucharest's churches, whilst anthropologist Vintila Mihailescu has described it as a 'huge political gaffe' and 'an attack on national identity'. Andrei Plesu, Cristi Puiu, Gabriel Liiceanu and Dan Falcan have also expressed their alarm and deep disapproval. Even Gigel says he doesn't agree with it.

Vintilă Mihăilescu

Citeste mai mult: Gigel has voiced his disapproval of such a move, albeit admitting that he doesn't know much about it....

PLEASE add your name to the petition HERE. So far there are 419 signatures at the time of writing. That is NOT enough. If we care enough about Romania to get out there on the streets to protect her land, her mountains and her future generations from cyanide gold extraction and fracking for shale gas and to oppose politicians introducing laws and legislations at the drop of a hat that absolve and promote those wrecking and undermining the country at a rate of knotts, then surely we should be indignant enough to stand up for her threatened history and cultural institutions, too. Right? This CANNOT be allowed to happen. Not again. It MUST be stopped.

paws off!(Photo source) There is a public Facebook page for you to visit HERE full of articles, info and events, keeping you up to speed. There will be two flashmobs tomorrow at MTR - one at 14h and a second at 18h. The message is simple: 'Solidarity with MTR'. Please be there if you can.


Update, 19th December: Late last night, it was reported that Pontaur has decided to 'take a step back' from the MTR merger with Muzeul Naţional al Satului due to public uproar at the news. God forbid that Ponta should do anything unpopular!! Good. Regrettably, however, it's just a pause. He is still determined that Antipa move to MTR and mutation of responsibility from the Ministry of Culture to that of the Environment go ahead...

Watch this space as news comes in. It doesn't end here.

Please don't forget the two flashmob events at MTR, 14h and 18h today!

flashmob mtr(Photo source) Later: Today's 14h flashmob unfolded with around 40 people in front of MTR, and the 18h 'session' with approx. 30. The museum kindly served hot tea to all, including the bus load of jandarmi. A hearty bravo to everyone who showed up at such short notice and an even bigger bravo to Roxana and others for organising it!

Greed (and that's what this is about) MUST NOT triumph over culture and national identity, any more than it should over environmental safety, health, justice and basic human rights. Not today, not tomorrow. Not ever. And definitely not in OUR Romania...


For more, please see Roxana Dascalu's article for HERE.

23rd December: Today the Romanian government officially renounced plans to merge MTR with the Village Museum 'for the time being', also shelving ideas to transfer responsibility from the Ministry of Culture to the Environment. Mr Nitulescu expressed hope that the momentary decision would turn out to be the final one, for if it were found to be the contrary, street protests would follow. Too right!

Ponta said that no one ever wanted to merge the museums in the first place. Huh?! Nuff said. What's more important is that Ponta has knocked the project on the head (for now) and will leave MTR alone. The staff of MTR are understandably 'grateful' and have no wish to experience any more 'delicate' situations with Ponta. The museum is safe.

I don't have a shred of faith in the PM, however. As we have seen with examples of Rosia Montana and Chevron, a spotlight lull often means theatrical effect for a false sense of security. They make me fiendishly nervous.

The petition which now has the support of a couple of thousand including Andrei Plesu, Ion Vianu, Marius Oprea, Marilena Rotaru, Andrei Pippidi, Dorel Sandor, Teodor Baconschi, Sanda Golopentia, Bogdan Suceava, Raluca Stirbat, Maria Raducanu, Victor Rebengiuc, Mariana Mihut and Maia Morgenstern will continue. Please, if you haven't yet added your voice, you can sign it HERE.

Watch this space - I'm uncomfortably sure we haven't heard the last of this....