“Power is not an institution, and not a structure; neither is it a certain strength we are endowed with; it is the name that one attributes to a complex strategical situation in a particular society.”
(Michel Foucault)

This is a strong subject, deeper than it seem, at least this is how I see it. The power of the past, the power of holding on, the connection between the old and the new, and the influences it has on the modern society…

As part of my summer task, I had to visit a museum or an art gallery that stands for the past/memory. Although it’s my thousand time I visit the museum I will talk about in a bit, I’ve decided I’ll give it another go before returning to the UK, as I consider it representative for the topic.

The ASTRA National Museum of Traditional Folk Civilization (aka The Open Air Museum), is the most important ethno-museum institution in Romania, located outside Sibiu city, spread across a 96 ha area. *Read more at link *

This museum is one of my favorites so far, as it’s so well structured and preserved, with a wide range of historical tools and buildings over a century old, and it’s that special place that makes me feel welcome every time I visit it.

Don’t know where to begin to discuss about this amazing place… Do you know that feeling when you visit your grandma or a close relative/ friend, that warm feeling of belonging?

Well, the Open Air Museum is part of my history, and I feel extremely close to it.

Analyzing my feelings , I associate the museum and the small old houses with my grand-grandmother who used to live outside the city, a place whom I used to consider paradise, surrounded by forests and rivers.

Going inside all the houses, seeing how people used to live, thinking of the previous generations and about how the world evolved is a unique experience, a must!!!! It makes me appreciate the small things I have. Seeing how the organizers decorated the place in a certain way, one that gives the viewer an insight of how people used to live hundreds of years ago. The fact that the museum hosts workshops, handicraft trainings and so on, involves the audience directly. It shows us that life wasn’t easy before all this modern technology, and that they had to work hard in order to get something that we, nowadays, take for granted.

The difference between my ‘memory’ of the way people used to live back then, and the way the museum represents it… well I’m overpowered! I wouldn’t be able to see the whole picture, as I didn’t live in that time, and I would miss out on the important details. My memories are influenced by the stories my grandmother used to tell me when I was a kid, on how the houses used to look, and how “people didn’t have all the pretty things we have today”. My memories are too subjective, influenced by feelings, disturbed by time, and limited by knowledge.

The Open Air Museum’s creators, by organizing everything into small houses, and by recreating an actual village, gives us a wider image of the past. I’d say they broke a time boundary- they reunited the past with the present. The power they express through the artwork re-created is impressive; the energy, hope, and simplicity can be felt in the air once you walk through the big wooden gates of The Open Air Museum Sibiu…

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