The Museum of Oltenia – 100 Years of History

The Museum of Oltenia Craiova was founded on 1st of April 1915, as a result of passion and dedication of some of the most important families in Craiova, at the beginning of the 20th century, but especially after the tireless efforts of the famous cultural personality that was Ştefan Ciuceanu.

The Regional Museum of Antiquities and Ethnography, as it was initially named the Museum of Oltenia Craiova, started its activity in the Administrative Palace of Craiova, now the Prefecture and the Dolj County Council, with the following collections: “epigraphic monuments of the Dacian - Roman era, Dacian – Roman, barbarian and Romanian prehistoric antiquities, located in Dolj County and (…) in other counties of Oltenia, ancient Romanian antiquities, collections of old documents, photography of old monuments, collections of Romanian medals, Dacian, Greek, Roman and Romanian coins, forming together the Archaeological Section. It will also collect and exhibit ethnographic material found in the communes of this county, such as: old Oltenian coats, artistically worked old peasant costumes, pottery collections, painted eggs, sculpted artistic wooden tools and objects.” (Ştefan Ciuceanu, in the memo to the Prefecture of Dolj County on 23rd of January 1915).

Towards the end of 1922, at the urge of several intellectuals in the city – teachers, military, lawyers etc., the Scientific Circle of Craiova was founded, with the aim of building a museum of natural history. The collections of the new museum were housed in the same rooms as the collections of the Regional Museum of Antiquities and Ethnography of Dolj County. On the 2nd of December 1923, the Museum of Natural History of Craiova was inaugurated by the members of the Scientific Circle of Craiova, led by the natural sciences professor, Marin Demetrescu.

On the 13th of May 1928, the Museum of Natural History of Craiova and the Regional Museum of Antiquities and Ethnography of Dolj County were united under the same name of the Regional Museum of Oltenia, under the leadership of Professor Marin Demetrescu. In 1933, the future academician C.S. Nicolăescu-Plopşor became conservative of the collections of the new museum, then honorary manager and manager, having concerns both in the field of history and archaeology but also folklore.

Between 1934-1948, the Regional Museum of Oltenia functioned in the House of Bănie (today the Department of Ethnography of the Museum of Oltenia – the oldest building in Craiova). After the Second World War, through the reforms of education and culture, the Regional Museum of Oltenia received for use the building of the former Madona Dudu Primary School, where, until 1963, permanent exhibitions of history, ethnography and natural sciences exhibitions were organised, under the guidance of Professor PhD. Ion Firu. In 1966, the Department of Ethnography of the Regional Museum of Oltenia returned in the House of Bănie.

In 1950, the Regional Museum of Oltenia took over the Pinacoteca “Alexandru and Aristia Aman”, collection that in 1954 would become its own under the name of Art Museum of Craiova. 

After the administrative reorganization in 1968, the Regional Museum of Oltenia, turned into the Museum of Oltenia Craiova. In 1975, two more departments appeared in the Museum of Oltenia, the Laboratory of Restoration and Conservation and the National Cultural Heritage Office. In 1981, the Museum of Oltenia Craiova was merged with the Art Museum of Craiova under the name of Dolj County Museum Complex, situation that lasted till 1991, when the two museums became self – reliant. 

Between 1975-1986, due to the lack of adequate space, the exhibition activity of the Department of Natural Sciences ceased, continuing the activity of completing and diversifying, evidence and scientific valorisation of the heritage. In 1984, the local authorities with competence in the culture field, with the support of Culture Council in Bucharest, decided that the Department of Natural Sciences of the Museum of Oltenia should receive the building of the former Ramuri Printing/Publishing House from Popa Şapcă no.8. Since then, the patrimony has been ordered in deposits, and, since 1986, the first temporary exhibitions have been organised. 

Nowadays, the Museum of Oltenia Craiova develops its activity in four buildings. The Department of History and Archaeology in Madona Dudu Street, no. 14, the Department of Natural Sciences in Ramuri Palace in Popa Şapcă Street, no. 8, the Department of Ethnography in the House of Bănie and the Laboratory of Restoration and Conservation in Madona Dudu Street, no. 14, in the building known as the Extension of the Department of History and Archaeology.

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