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The Brukenthal National Museum is the oldest in Central and Eastern Europe, first open to the public in 1817, a phenomenon museum that has opened its gates so that the public could admire its collections in all their glory.

Photo credit (c): Muzeul National Brukenthal

‘We want to draw attention, starting this year, that in 2017 we will celebrate Baron Brukenthal as well as 200 years of the museum’s activity. The Brukenthal Museum was born as a collector’s museum that was donated to the community. This is how we prepare for 2017, with a museum that addresses the community, a museum that follows the things around it. After 2017, 2021 will come when we celebrate the 300th birth anniversary of Brukenthal , when we return to a classical museum. This is a dialogue with the community, with visitors and with the world. Cultural heritages cross boundaries, continents and time. (…) I begin to feel good at Brukenthal as worlds are congregating,’ says Sabin Luca, director of the Brukenthal National Museum.

Baron Samuel von Brukenthal (1721-1803) was the only representative of the Transylvanian Saxon community to whom major public offices in the Austrian Empire were entrusted under Empress Maria Theresa, with the first such office having been aulic councillor of Transylvania. His time spent in Vienna in this capacity coincided with the formation of his collection of paintings, which was mentioned in 1773 in ‘Almanach de Vienne’ as one of the most valuable private collections that could be seen in the Viennese cultural circles of the time.

Initial collections of Baron von Brukenthal, consisting of an art gallery, a print room, a library and a numismatic collection were created between 1759 and 1774.
Appointed Governor of the Grand Principality of Transylvania, a position he held between 1777 and 1787, Samuel von Brukenthal built in Sibiu a late Baroque palace, modelled on Viennese palaces.

Brukenthal Palace is one of the most important Baroque monuments in Romania. It was built in stages between 1778 and 1788. The appearance of the palace seen from the Market Square is particularly elegant because of the verticality of its pilasters and attic ceiling. The palace was built to serve as the official residence of the baron and as the main storage place for its collections.

Photo credit (c): Muzeul National Brukenthal

Currently, Brukenthal Palace houses the European Art Gallery of the Brukenthal National Museum and the Brukenthal Library.

Far from the eyes of most of the visitors, in the courtyard of Brukenthal Palace, is the library. It contains tens of thousands of works published in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, including works by Moliere published in Paris in 1734 in six volumes, Boccaccio’s ‘Decameron’ printed in London in 1757, ‘Harmonia Macrocosmica,’ a typographic jewel with 27 colour maps, and ‘Quatre livres’ by Albert Durer, published in Paris in 1557. The most valuable item in the library is, the ‘Brukenthal Breviary’ or ‘Book of Hours,’ which manuscript is an exceptional work of the Flemish school of miniatures dating from the first decades of the 16th century. Of the 422 incunabula in the library worth mentioning is Hartman Schedel’s ‘Liber Chronicarum,’ the Nuremberg Chronicle published by the famous Nuremberg printer Anton Koberger in 1493 that has over 600 illustrations. Also in the library there is a Bible published by the same printer in Nuremberg in 1483.


The Brukenthal Library also has a collection of old Romanian books, including Varlaam’s ‘Cazania,’ a religious book of sermons and stories explaining the meanings of evangelical texts, printed in Iasi in 1643. Its collection of books printed in Transylvania or about Transylvania is special. The oldest book on display is work is ‘Augustinus Haereseon Catalogus,’ printed in Brasov in 1539 by Johannes Honterus the first printer in Transylvania.

Brukenthal Palace in the Market Square and the baron’s collections together make up the core of today’s Brukenthal National Museum, which gates have been open to the public ever since its inception by its founder’s testamentary disposition.

Currently, the Brukenthal National Museum operates as a public institution of mixed ownership, under an agreement between the Romanian Government and the Evangelical Church of Sibiu.

Visiting the museum is not confined to a single building or a single profile of specialisation, becoming a comprehensive journey that presents multiple aspects of the past and the ever changing present, reflected in a wide variety of exhibits covering approximately 10,000 square metres, of which 5,500 are new and recently refurbished exhibition spaces.

Initially showcasing the collection of European paintings of Baron Samuel von Brukenthal in one building, the museum today houses a wide variety of valuable collections in 9 buildings, of which 5 are palaces built in different eras: the earliest building, which foundation dates back to the 13th century, is part of an architectural compound that also includes a Museum of History, while the most recent dates back to 1901, now hosting the Contemporary Art Gallery.

In 2006-2009, the museum underwent a spectacular transformation, with all its buildings having been refurbished and 85% of its exhibitions redesigned and extended in accordance with methodologies and concepts of contemporary museology.

The Brukenthal National Museum’s main priority in its programmes and projects for the future is capitalising on its heritage at a European level through international exhibitions. The programme started with the ‘Bruegel, Memling, Van Eyck — The Brukenthal Collection’ exhibition opened in 2009 at the Jacquemart-Andre Museum of Paris and continued with exchanges of exhibitions conducted in cooperation with museums in Poland, Germany, Italy etc. and the development of educational programmes. The Brukenthal National Museum was chosen by the European Commission and Europa Nostra among the winners of the 2010 edition of the European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards (Category 4 — Education, Training and Awareness Raising). It was the first museum in Romania to receive a prize from the European Union.


In 2011, the Brukenthal National Museum was included in The Best in Heritage Excellence Club by the European Heritage Association.

The Brukenthal National Museum has conducted sustained branding. Depicting the portrait of Baron Samuel von Brukenthal, the brand was launched with the release of the Brukenthal Chocolate (2008). It has been promoted alongside the façade of the palace and the logo of the institution in a series of increasingly wider range of branded and customised products. In 2012, it was awarded ‘The Most Promising Romanian Cultural Brand’ prize.

In May 2013, the Brukenthal National Museum started a campaign called ‘I love Brukenthal’, proposing a return to acknowledging the individual action of cultural patronage, aimed, via the museum, at the local, national and European community, of which it is a part, by the magnitude of the projects it conducts. German and Austrian paintings are perhaps the highest in demand at Brukenthal Palace. The richest European painting collections of the Brukenthal art gallery is the German and Austrian collection, counting nearly 500 paintings from the 15th to the 18th centuries. Yet, most of the works are from the 17th and 18th centuries illustrating various trends of the Baroque, including the influences of the Flemish, Dutch and Italian schools.

The Brukenthal National Museum is the only museum in Romania that has in its collection of European paintings works by Jan van Eyck, Hans Memling and Titian Vecellio Da Cadore, which can be seen on display along with works by other masters such as Antonello da Messina, Lorenzo Lotto, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Pieter Bruegel the Younger, Jacob Jordaens, David Teniers II, Philips Wouwerman, Philips de Koninck, Frans van Mieris I, Alessandro Magnasco and Rosalba Carriera.
An integrant part of the Brukenthal art gallery, the collection of Flemish and Dutch paintings comprises approximately 450 works.

The most famous temporary exhibition now at Brukenthal Palace is the first exhibition in Romania of famous Salvador Dali’s illustrations for Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy,’ basically the main graphics work of the Spanish painter, an artist who believed to be akin to Romanians and who wanted to come to Romania, according to exhibition curator Maria Ordeanu.

The Brukenthal National Museum means Brukenthal Palace, the neighbouring Blue House where there are the Romanian Art Gallery, the Gallery of Contemporary Arts, the Museum of History, the Museum of Natural History, the Museum of the History of Pharmacy, the oldest of its kind in Romania, the Museum of Hunting and refurbishment workshops.


All languages of the world are spoken at Brukenthal Palace in Sibiu. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people from all around the world come to the palace to admire the former Transylvanian governor’s collections in a place that remains as innovative, modern and European as ever after nearly two centuries. AGERPRES

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