How to get to MNAC how to get to the national museum of contemporary art in bucharest

"towards MNAC" arrow on the lawn in front of the Museum

The mnac is located in the backside of the "Ceaușescu Palace", while the Romanian Parliament decided a few years ago to move into the front part of the building.

view of the SW corner of the Palace, with MNAC in the center

It’s difficult to get to the Museum because its only access serves at the same time as side entrance of the parliamentarians. There is a lot of security everywhere and no parking lots for Museum visitors what so ever. The buildings overwhelming dimensions make it a long foot march to get there.

south fence

While Romanian parliamentarians enjoy the fairy-tale environment of the world’s allegedly second largest building after the Cheop’s pyramid and boast their feelings walking over endless red carpets, the rear side of this huge building is still not entirely finished yet already falling apart.

east "official" or Parliament side

west "backside", view from MNAC terrace

At our first visit to the Museum we saw two guards burning stacks of paper in a rusty oil barrel. They didn’t appreciate having their pictures taken and disappeared into their little booth, taking up their strange occupation sometime after we had left.

When we finally got through the whole security check and had safely deposited our cameras in the cloak room we met Ruxandra Balaci, the Museum's curator and Mihai Oroveanu, its director.

Here is a short summary of what we heard about access to MNAC:

The Museum has a problem with a certain mentality of the Palace's guards. Namely, even if there is a decision at the top that one can move freely in a certain perimeter, it's ultimately up to the soldier at the gate. There's also a clear difference in behavior between one commanding officer and another.
It's also the case that our neighbors from the Parliament find it somewhat hard to stomach there is art just on the other side of a wall. I think we are making progress however.
There is an officer, a colonel, here that shows some interest in what we are doing here. They are people as well. They reside in that part of the building [shows the South-West wing].
Also, some of these days, I got a phonecall from a senator, asking me if it's safe for his daughter to come here. I think it's a good beginning. If it was up to me, I would make a swimming pool here [gestures towards the bare field behind the palace where in all likelyhood the humungous National Salvation Cathedral will be build soon].
In fact, when [Adrian] Năstase [the former Prime Minister] brokered the deal, when we were given this space, a promise was made to carv out separate access for us. But this never happened, you know how things go... That's why you had to go through this whole metal detector nonsense downstairs. But starting from next week, I'll start to assert myself more clearly, because the situation has become intolerable, even those who work here are harassed.
Regarding Santiago Serra's performance last week, it is the artist that chose to not let people get into the building in a larger flux. He wanted them to enter in smaller group, the difficulties getting in were part of his concept. I didn't hear that there were scuffles at the gate.

In order to get an idea how other people made their way to this somewhat inaccessible and mostly empty museum we asked several Bucharest taxi drivers if they knew where the National Museum of Contemporary Art is. In each case we followed a consistent line of questioning. If we noticed an initial hesitation we "helped" the driver by narrowing the possible location of the institution. After asking the "where" question we asked about what exactly the MNAC might be about. Finally, we asked in various forms what the driver thinks about the whole Parliament House building, sometimes provoking him by sharing a negative view of its architecture or history.
Here are some of the results (the questions themselves were omitted):

Yes, I know the Museum, but it's not at all in the palace. It's near the Atheneum, it has big old paintings.

The Museum of what?

Yes, I know, it's near the Hilton Hotel. It's paintings, this kind of stuff. Very many foreigners come there. The building is superb. These guys [the contemporary politicians] didn't build one thing; he [Ceaușescu] gave people work and these new guys didn't do one thing. It's a superb palace.

Yes, yes, I know it, it's from the 13th side entrance. I know it because we have a customer that works there.

No, I don't know how she looks like, her father is an architect.

Sometimes she gets a ride to work with us.

No, I can't drive her all the way to the very entrance, it's restricted. I let her out near the pedestrian crossing.

The art museum of what?
Wait a minute, I'll ask the boys over the radio.
Hey guys, do you know where the National Musuem of Contemporary Art is?

[voice on the radio]:
Yep, it's right in the Parliament House Building, you need to get to the Izvor Side entrance.

See, the cab drivers know!

[another voice on the radio]:
Who's asking about the Museum?

[yet another voice on the radio]:
Marin, are you nuts, you want to go to a museum in the middle of the night?

Yessir, it's a big building. Nice? - I don't know what to say. They better use it for something now that it's there.

Museum of Art, yes, I know, the entrance is from behind but it's in the same building as the Parliament.
They show very modern art, paintings and such.

Don't know, don't think there is a museum there.

Yes, there is a museum there, it's made by Ceausescu, very nice. It's huge, many foreigners go there.

Not sure about the museum but the building is amazing.
It is one of the largest in the world. Can you imagine, about six millions foreigners have visited it and only one million of us, Romanians.
Well, I don't know how many per day that means.
Yes, it's gotta be after the revolution, before it was impossible.
I have no idea how many busses that means.
I don't remember that many busses in front of the building, ever.
Well, indeed, it seems like... yes, they said, I don't remember who, maybe it was six hundred thousand and not six million.
Anyway, it's a great building but some don't like it.
To everyone their taste.

No, I don't know.
But do you know that they are going to build a cathedral back there? It's going to be big. The priests are greedy, they have eyes of snakes. It's said in the scripture. In the parable of the camel.
No, it's not about the Pharisees, it's about the rich. Yet, Jesus gives them a chance. It's not completely impossible to enter the kingdom of heaven. But the problem with the Orthodox Church is that they don't have a pact with God.

Don't know.

It's accessible through the same gate as the parliament but the parliament is off-limits to visits, of course. It's part of the Parliament building. You have to see it, it's a beautiful building. You can take a guided tour. They are doing contemporary art things with foreigners there.

Sorry, don't know. But I think it must be a mistake; if there would be a museum there I would know it.


location file for the People's Palace (you will need GoogleEarth - a free download to see satelite imagery)
MNAC official site

random image

is an independant artistic research project by
Berlin's UrbanArt group
(Marek Pisarsky &
Anne Peschken) and
Bogdan Achimescu.

Support for
provided by Kula e.V.


all images and text
by bucharest-buchawork 2005 web design: bogdescu
graphics: bielmo

visit counter:

All contents of this webpage © by the bucharest-buchawork team

we recommend 0pera 8

newest additions to the site:
obor genetics a story about romania's genetically modified crops
interviews with some of our guests (hosted by YouTube)