The Art Museum is situated in the center of Cluj-Napoca, east from St. Michael’s Cathedral. It is considered one of the most important museums of Romania, having 1200 pieces in its collection. The building in which this institution resides since 1956 is the Banffy Palace, a baroque monument dating from 1785.
The Banffy Palace was designed by a German architect named Johann Eberhard Blaumann. The client, Gyorgy Banffy, a Hungarian duke and the governor of Transylvania at that time, lived here until 1822. Later on, the building received a series of other purposes, such as a National Casino, apartments and commercial spaces, industrial companies’ residence and even a cinema in 1925.
The palace is a private property of Cluj County and it is under the Art Museum’s administration. In 1956, the county of Cluj brought the building into the Museum’s service, institution established in 1951. The palace was under heavy works of restoration between the years 1960 and 1974. The Art Museum moved to the partially restored palace in 1962 and was open to the public eye three years later.
The building is formed in 4 flanks that form a rectangular courtyard. The main entrance is monumental; having an imposing wrought iron gate which then opens up to 2 staircases on each side and the courtyard ahead. The gable-roof has the Banffy family’s blazon on it, sustained by to winged crown-headed griffins. Along these griffins there are symmetrically positioned statues of ancient deities, like Hercules, Perseus, Athena and Mars, made by sculptor Anton Schuchbauer.
The Banffy Palace (Palatul Banffy Cluj) is one of the most representative baroque style buildings of Transylvania, and is a first category building in a list of architectural and artistic patrimony of Romania.
The Banffy Family also a homonym castle in Bontida, where the well-known Electric Castle Festival is held annually. These two edifices of the family were mentioned in “Miss Tarring’s war”, the diary of an English governess in Hungarian Transylvania between 1914 and 1919. The palace was also visited by Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor, Caroline Augusta of Bavaria and Franz Joseph I of Austria several times.
The National Museum of Art in Cluj-Napoca nests an extremely vast collection of art that covers domains like painting, sculpture, graphics, decorative arts and documented backgrounds.
Tourists can walk around the National Gallery, seeing artworks of the Romanian artists displayed in 21 rooms, creating an evolutionary journey of Transylvanian art. There are artists of the 19th century, like Nicolae Grigorescu and Stefan Luchian. The first half of the 20th century in Arts is represented here by Nicolae Tonitza, Theodor Pallady, Nicolae Darascu and a handful more; whereas the art of the second halfs is represented by Ion Tuculescu, Aurel Ciupe, Ion Vlasiu, Corneliu Baba. These aforementioned artists have created work of great significane for the detachment of communist artistic forms.
Besides the permanent collection, there are always new unique exhibitions in the left part of the main body and also in the courtyard. Not only that, it is also an adequate place for events of all sort: book launches, expos, galas, cultural festivals, conferences, theater and open air cinema.
The Art Museum of Cluj-Napoca also has a special program named “Interactive Museum”, where the patrimony collection of the Museum opens up to the public and to researchers every Thursday.
This place is a hard to miss double landmark of Cluj, where tourists can see not only an arts museum for very convenient prices, but also an architectural beauty for free.