Martor No. 23 / Year 2018

The Museums of the World and I. My Museum Experience in an Eastern European Country

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Author: Irina Nicolau

Translated from the French by:
Anca-Maria Pănoiu, and Ioana Miruna Voiculescu

Pages: 73-92

Keywords: Eastern European museums, (post)communism, transition, mother-like/father-like museums, absent/imaginary museums, antidote museum, Missionary Museum, subjectivity.

In the context of the major changes that the the Museum of the Romanian Peasant is currently undergoing, we decided to publish an extraordinarily daring article written by Irina Nicolau in 1994, at a time when the “young” MRP she had co-founded together with Horia Bernea was experiencing another era of change and challenges as it made a fresh start after the fall of communism. With the bright reflections of young PhD candidate Dominique Belkis serving as her mirror, as in a dialogue between master and disciple, Irina Nicolau tells her story about the scars left by the communist decades on Eastern European countries and, more specifically, on Romanian culture. Being aware of the necessity to rethink the past in order to stage it in a valid discourse for the present and for the future as well, the ethnologist—who relies on intelligent emotions—speaks of mother-like museums in opposition to father-like ones, of the absent museums of her adolescence and the imaginary bridges she built in order to reach them, of the thirst for knowledge under a rigidly prohibitive political regime. More than twenty years old, Nicolau’s and Belkis’s reflections prove to be as valid and as topical in the present. But what would an antidote museum look like today? And, above all, could the Missionary Museum of the MRP’s early days be a visionary one?

How to cite this article: Nicolau, Irina. 2018. “The Museums of the World and I. My Museum Experience in an Eastern European Country.” Martor 23: 73-92. [DOI: 10.57225/martor.2018.23.05]