The Astra National Museum Complex in Sibiu, in central Romania, received this year’s Luigi Micheletti Award, which recognizes innovative museums in the world of contemporary history, industry and science.
The open-air, ethnographic Astra museum is the first in Romania to receive the distinction, its director, Ciprian Ştefan, explained.
The judges recognized the Romanian museum as an “innovative, creative open-air museum, organizing its huge, rich collection in a way that highlights present-day issues such as migration, sustainability and biodiversity.”
“The museum is deeply involved in connection [to] the different ethnic minorities and their stories and puts a great deal of effort into supplementing this with all kinds of festivities, plays and demonstrations. The Open Heritage project is an excellent example of how important collaboration between cultural institutions from different countries can be for the development of all the partners and the world of museums as such. This can only be achieved with corresponding funding, of course. […] We offer our sincere congratulations on what has been achieved so far and look forward to seeing even more innovations in the future,” a statement from the judges reads.
The museum’s director explained that the institution he leads “generated programs and cultural offers with which it clearly stood out from other similar cultural institutions in the country and in Europe, through the message it addressed to the community,” Agerpres reported.
Astra welcomed over 600,000 visitors in 2018, and has a varied offer of cultural, educational and gastronomical events. It regularly holds events where it showcases various communities in Romania. This year, it also hosted the summit of the European People’s Party.
The museum was established in 1963 with a focus on the technical side of Romanian rural patrimony, with its unique collection of mills for grinding, oil and fruit presses, sawmills and some peasant industries.
Since the 1990s its message has changed. A living museum, it retains its traditional culture but puts more emphasis on immaterial patrimony. It hosts traditional fairs, workshops, folk festivals and performances as well as conferences, with visitors invited to work, learn and play alongside craftsmen, musicians and dancers. The country’s rich heritage is on display, including that of all the minority ethnic groups.