FORMER ARCHAEOLOGY MUSEUM
In the second to last decade of the nineteenth century, the Society of History, Archaeology and Natural Sciences undertook strenuous efforts to establish a museum in Alba Iulia. It was necessary to capitalise on the rich heritage of the ancient city of Apulum, with discoveries of more and more vestiges. In the first phase, the newly established museum operated in the children’s kindergarten near the church in the Lipoveni neighbourhood, but on the 18th of July 1900, the aforementioned society received the new kindergarten in the Maieri neighbourhood. The building was built in 1895 (School No. 3 „Avram Iancu” currently functions here). The museum would function here until the beginning of the First World War when part of the collections was taken to Budapest. After the war, the institution continued to function here under the name of „Ethnographic Museum” until 1929, when a building belonging to the Coronation Cathedral started to house the Union Museum which took over the patrimony of the old museum.
Due to the efforts of the society and some hardworking custodians such as Adálbert Csérni and Avéd Jákó, the museum collections increased by means of both donations and new archaeological discoveries. The interest in the collections was high, the museum being visited by prestigious professors such as Julius Jung, from the University of Innsbruck, Alois Riegl from Vienna, F. Drexel of Freiburg, and Grigore Tocilescu, director of the Museum of Antiquities in Bucharest, and Ioan Andrieşescu, director of the same museum and professor at the University of Bucharest.
Scientific consultant: Tudor Roșu, PhD historian
Translation made by: Ciprian Dobra, PR expert
Alba Iulia was among the first cities in Transylvania to set up a museum in the late 1800s. The initiative was coordinated by the „Society of History”, Archeology and Natural Sciences and materialized in 1888.
The mission of establishing the museum was entrusted to Adalbert Cserni, the first custodian and subsequently manager of the place. At the beginning, the museum functioned in a kindergarten near the church in the Lipoveni neighbourhood. Then, in 1900, the museum was moved into a five room kindergarten building in the Maieri neighbourhood. The collections were mainly donations from amateur archaeologists or institutions such as the Batthyaneum Library. The main objects of interest were Roman sculptures and inscriptions discovered at Apulum and visitors could also see prehistoric, post-medieval or medieval exhibits. The beginning of First World War and the death of Adalbert Cserni (1916) almost determined the museum to close its doors and part of the collections was taken to Budapest. After the war, the museum continued to function under the name of „Ethnographic Museum” in this building by 1929. It was the year when the Union Museum was inaugurated in one of the pavilions of the Coronation Cathedral ensemble. But nowadays the Union National Museum functions in the former Babylon Palace, on Mihai Viteazul Street. The former building of the museum in the Maieri neighbourhood currently houses the „Avram Iancu” General School.