Ţării Crişurilor Museum – museum complex, subordinated to Bihor County Council – is an important cultural objective in Romania, formed by Ţării Crişurilor Museum departments: Archaeology, History, Natural Sciences, Ethnography, Art, Public Relations and Exhibitions), The “Iosif Vulcan” Memorial Museum, the “Aurel Lazăr” Memorial Museum, the “Ady Endre” Memorial Museum (museums that are part of the Memorial museums, social groups, history of the minorities) and the Vadu Crișului Cave.
According to the statistic of the Ministry of Culture, the museum is ranked the fifth in Romania, due to the number of museum pieces (over 450000).
SHORT HISTORY OF THE MUSEUM
In 1872 the Archaeology and History Society began its activity by planning to build a county museum. Supported by local authorities, Oradea’s first museum opened in June 1896, in an eclectic building that was finished in 1895, designed by the famous architect Rimanoczy Kalman with the exact purpose to serve as a museum. Archaeology, history and ethnography pieces were displayed in the nine main rooms of the museum. Nevertheless, this museum represented an appropriate frame and background for the enlargement of the existing collections, and its presence created the need for conservation and storage measures. In 1918 the museum owned 17.640 pieces, out of which 1377 were part of the private collection of the catholic bishop Ipolyi Arnold.
The government was particularly fond of this kind of establishments and was constantly promoting them in the period following the union of the Romanian states. Beside the financial support, the state asked for a solid verification of all records available after the war, considering that between 1916 and 1918 the private collection mentioned above and other patrimonial objects had been moved to Budapest and Strigonoiu. In the light of these changes the developmental strategy was changed, focusing more on traditional art and the entire museum was reorganized before its new opening in 1921. For this particular occasion a guide of the museum was printed in both Romanian and Hungarian.
For 25 years (1946-1971) Bihor County’s Museum’s collections became larger and more diversified. New sections such as: art or natural sciences were created. After the restoration of the Baroque Palace (built in 1762-1776 by Franz Anton Hillerbrandt) initially destined to host the offices of the catholic bishopric, the building has been transformed in the Tara Crișurilor Museum starting form 17 January 1971.
A time of great achievements followed, as the museum became an important cultural and scientific center for the local community, as well as an European institution that promoted collaboration with other similar institutions inside and outside the border, with universities and research institutions form Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Switzerland, Yugoslavia, France, etc. The team of museum specialists proved their professionalism in both research activities and valuation of the patrimony of the History, Art, Ethnography, Natural Sciences sections and of the Memorial Museums Ady Endre and Iosif Vulcan. Their work consisted in properly displaying and promoting the collections, studying and researching the historical-geographical area through on-field archaeological sites and protecting/conserving the historical monuments. The natural cave located in Vadu Crisului is also under the museum’s administration.
After 1971 the people working for the museum had put together three different annual magazines, Crisia, specialized in archaeology and history, Biharea, specialized in ethnography and art and Nymphaea, dealing with natural sciences, magazines that have reached 132 issues by now. More than 100 books have been edited and the museum participated in several research projects and joint contracts on national and international level. Since 1971 the range of interests has been continuously evolving, thus translating in the new departments such as: The National Office of Cultural Patrimony (1977), since 2002 part of the Direction of the National Cultural Patrimony Bihor, Public relations and Exhibitions (1996), the Memorial museums, social groups, history of the minorities Department.
If the year 1972 reported 25314 pieces, currently, the patrimony has reached a number of 478.735 objects, out of which 286.738 belong to the history and archeology department, 12.919 to the art department, 20.693 are ethnographical items and 158.385 are objects relevant for the natural sciences department.
In 1896 the first building especially projected to host a museum opened its gates to the public, and on the 17th of January it became the Țării Crișurilor Museum, one of the largest of its kind in Romania. Both dates are significant for the Romanian museology because they mark the starting point of different stages of collection organization of the objects, most of which are testimonials of the western Romanian culture a land where Romanian, Hungarian, Slovakian and Swabian cultures meet.
Today after 121 years of existence the Țării Crișurilor Museum has arrived at an age of maturity becoming an important local, national and European cultural reality. Its relocation in a new building, organized according to the requests of the third millennium, a location that we hope to be permanent and preserve a special consideration to the museum’s patrimony.