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The ASTRA National Museum Complex 

 

The ASTRA National Museum Complex is located in the heart of Romania, in the picturesque city of Sibiu. The complex represents the most important ethnographical museum institution in Romania, with a history going back to 1905, when the first exposition was held here. 

 Museum of Traditional Folk Civilization Sibiu (copyright: Sergiu Bacioiu/ Flickr )

Museum of Traditional Folk Civilization Sibiu (copyright: Sergiu Bacioiu/Flickr)

Initially, the museum was known as the Association Museum, due to the fact that it was created under the patronage of the Transylvanian Association for Romanian Literature and Culture of the Romanian People. The ASTRA Museum was reorganized in the present form in 1990. 

Within the complex, there are four ethnographic museums and a department of anthropological documentary film. The public-facing sections are supported by the Educational Department, the Cultural Marketing Department, the ‘Astra Museum’ Publishing House, the Project Management Department and the Conservation and Restoration Department.

The most important section of the complex is the Open-Air Museum, also known as the ASTRA Museum of Traditional Folk Civilization. Located in the beautiful natural reservation of Dumbrava Sibiului, the museum spans over an area of 96 hectares. The permanent exposition of the Open-Air Museum covers 42 hectares and is the largest exposition of this type in Europe. 

Due to its size, the Open-Air Museum is divided into six sectors and 36 groups, each with a different theme. Here, visitors can admire over 400 monuments, such as wooden churches, mills and traditional houses. Events focusing on tradition, such as festivals, fairs and workshops, take place here on a regular basis.

Besides these, visitors can enjoy long walks on the alleys, horse carriage or sleigh rides, and sailings on the lake. The Open-Air Museum is very family friendly, hosting a playground and numerous educational activities.

All photos: Sergiu Bacioiu (click image for more)

Another section of the ASTRA Complex is the ‘Franz Binder’ Museum of Universal Ethnography, housed in a centuries-old building in Sibiu’s Small Square. The Museum was opened in 1993 and is the only one in Romania to focus on presenting aspects from world cultures and civilizations. Franz Binder was a passionate explorer, who donated to the museum his collection of African artifacts, most of them from the south of Sudan. After 1990, a series of donations and collection exchanges contributed to the impressive development of the museum’s patrimony. Collections from Japan, Congo, China, India and other places can be admired today in the Franz Binder Museum.

The ASTRA Museum of Transylvanian Civilization was inaugurated in 1993 and is the continuator of the Association Museum. The museum houses over 9,000 objects registered as category ‘A’, such as embroideries, religious objects, ceramics and traditional costumes. These priceless assets were put on display in numerous expositions, both in Romania and abroad.

An important part of the ASTRA complex is the ASTRA Film Studio. The stated goal of this cinematography center is to educate the community in the spirit of multi-ethnic tolerance. The center was inaugurated in 1993 and currently has about 4000 documentaries in its inventory. 

Other interesting sections of the ASTRA National Museum Complex are the Folk Art Galleries, where visitors can purchase various traditional objects, the ‘Cornel Irimie’ Information and Documentation Centre in Ethnology, the ‘Emil Sigerus’ Museum of Saxon Ethnography and Folk Art, as well as the Traditional Inns.

Whether you’re in Sibiu for a quick city break or a full holiday, don’t miss the ASTRA cultural establishments. From understanding Sibiu’s Saxon heritage to learning more about Romania’s rich folk culture, ASTRA museums will help you connect with the fascinating history and culture of the region.