Art, Politics and the Museum: Tales of continuity and rupture in modern Romania

Nicolescu, Gabriela. 2015. Art, Politics and the Museum: Tales of continuity and rupture in modern Romania. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis provides an exploration of moments of abrupt political change in modern Romania through an analysis of the multiple transformations that have occurred in the National Museum of the Romanian Peasant (NMRP). It traces the paradoxical process by which a museum, perceived as an ‘immutable institution’ not only reflected, but also became a stage for supporting the shift from monarchy to communism and the ensuing of the post-communist order. It reveals how the present-day NMRP is a mixture of institutions, fragments and deletions, a problematic assemblage of people and practices. This mix has resulted in the formation of conflicting and often contradictory views on representation: be they views of the peasant, the past, or the aesthetics of display. Such conflicts in turn exemplify tensions about Romanian identity and modernity more generally.

The thesis is based on an analysis of a broad range of contemporary and archival material, such as photography relating to exhibitions and events, films, descriptions of museum displays, labels, and artefacts themselves. This analysis works in combination with ethnography and with reflection on the experience of curating a contemporary exhibition within the museum. In this exhibition, objects and words were used to explore the juxtaposition of concurrent views about the past and the co-existence of different pasts in the present. It is suggested that an understanding of how oppositions work together in the confined space of the museum enables clearer perceptions of social and political tensions within contemporary Romanian society.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

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Communism, exhibition, design, innovation, folklore, post-socialism

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31 July 2015

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Date Deposited:

06 Aug 2015 15:06

Last Modified:

12 Sep 2022 11:09


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