An international contest has been announced to design a National Museum of the History of the Romanian Jewry and the Holocaust in Bucharest (Deadline: 21 November)
The competition, organised by the Elie Wiesel Institute, seeks proposals for a permanent exhibition space within the landmark Dacia Palace on Lipscani Street, a short distance from the National Museum of Romanian History in the centre of the capital city.
The 6,500m² project will create a museum, education facility and cultural centre dedicated to the history of Romania’s Jewish community, which saw approximately 400,000 of its members murdered in the Holocaust.
Dacia Palace, Bucharest
According to the brief: ‘The purpose of the National Museum of the History of the Romanian Jewry and the Holocaust is to present and promote the history, culture, and traditions of the Jewish communities in Romania and to educate local and international audiences on this national minority’s contributions to the evolution and development of Romanian society over time.
‘Moreover, the activity of the future institution will include a major educational component, the central elements of which will be to protect the memory of the Holocaust victims and to promote non-discrimination. The museum will be set up in the historic centre of the City of Bucharest. It will be housed in one of the most representative historic-monument buildings for this urban area with architectural neoclassical features with eclectic elements. The “Dacia” Palace.’
The Elie Wiesel Institute – also known as the National Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania – was created in Bucharest in 2005 to promote research projects and challenge antisemitism and Holocaust denial.
Dacia Palace, Bucharest
The institute is named after the Romanian-born, American Jewish writer Elie Wiesel who was deported to the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps as a teenager and survived.
The project will create a museum inside the historic Dacia Palace dedicated to Romania’s Jewish community, which was the third largest in the world during the interwar period, after Poland’s and the USSR’s .
The museum will feature artefacts, artworks, documents, and videos dating from the early middle ages up until 1990. It will also include an educational centre, cultural centre, research centre, library, cafeteria, bookshop and gift shop.
Judges include Lucian-Alexandru Găvozdea from the Romanian Architects Order, Elisabeth Ungureanu of the Elie Wiesel Institute, and Mihnea Constantinescu from Romania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The competition languages are English and Romanian.
How to apply
The deadline for applications is 4pm local time on 21 November
National Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania ‘Elie Wiesel’
Str. Dacia nr. 89
Tel: +40 213180939
Fax: +40 213180939
Q&A with Roxana Popa
The public relations counsellor at the Elie Wiesel National Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania discusses her ambitions for the competition
Why are your holding an international design contest for the interior of the National Museum of Jewish History and the Holocaust in Romania?
In 2016, the Elie Wiesel National Institute was appointed by the Romanian Government with the organization, the coordination, and the creation of the National Museum of the History of the Romanian Jewry and the Holocaust. It is a large-scale project, based on a public-private partnership (the Romanian Presidency, the Romanian Government, the Bucharest City Hall together with donations and various sponsorships will be the main financing sources of the project). Taking into consideration the complexity of the project and our mission of creating through this museum a platform for civic and intercultural dialogue, we consider an international competition an appropriate way of benefiting from a rich experience and a broad perspective of the international community of professionals in architecture. It is also an opportunity to identify the best solution for presenting a part of the history, but also for implementing a project representing a step towards accountability and tolerance. Moreover, according to the EU legislation, such a project is subject to organising an international competition.
What is your vision for the future of the museum?
We envision the future museum as a modern space integrating educational, cultural, civic information functions. Our mission is to challenge and to inspire the audience through the discovery of the past, so we want the museum to offer a unique experience to the visitor, and to impose new standards in the perception of the culture and the history of the Jewish community. The storyline of the permanent exhibition focuses on presenting the history of the Jewish community as part of the Romanian history.
The project of the future museum (about 4,500m² of which 1,000-1,500m² for the permanent exhibition) should provide the facilities for permanent and temporary exhibitions, for a library, an educational centre and a cultural one, a storage space and an administrative circuit, for a gifts & books shop and even a cafeteria. A potential constraint or rather a challenge might be the transformation of a 19-century building into a modern space, attractive to all audiences: the ones who appreciate a classic way of exhibiting in a museum, and those who are more responsive to interactive and digitalised ways of exhibiting. The design innovation and quality of the projects are for sure very important for a museum like the one we envision, as well as the curatorial, heritage and economic criteria.
What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?
The competition is open to architects and designers with the knowledge and previous experience in projecting a permanent exhibition for a museum, and in working with heritage buildings. A museum is a special project with unique challenges, and it requires an experience in working with such type of spaces. For sure, the National Museum of the History of the Romanian Jewry and the Holocaust could be a project of reference for a professional in the architecture field. The decision of collaborating with local firms it is upon each international team.
Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured? Our focus at the moment is on organizing and creating the National Museum of the History of the Romanian Jewry and the Holocaust. It is a complex process that we started two years ago, and it is going to be a long one.
Are there any other recent Jewish museum projects you have been impressed by?
Museums that awakened our interests are:
- The Jewish Museum in Berlin;
- The Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw;
- The Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center, Moscow.