The “Molnár István” museum opened its first exhibition in 1946, displaying the historical collections of the old Unitarian high school. The first director was István Molnár, a Transylvanian history teacher and ethnographer, who lived and worked in Cristuru Secuiesc. After his death, in the summer of 1997, the museum took his name.
In 1952 the museum acquired the old Casino building and courtyard, which now displays its outdoor section. The school collection was later enlarged, thanks to archeological excavations in the 50s, 60s and 70s that have revealed remains of several ancient civilizations in the town and its surroundings.
The archeological-historical collection includes prehistoric tools (Copper Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age) from the Cristuru area and neighboring villages, Dacic silver jewelry, Roman artifacts, different finds from the Middle Ages and the Slavic era. Of particular relevance is the unique stove tile collection (15-16th century); visitors can also admire the reconstruction of a medieval ceramic stove, based on the remains found in a noble Szekely house.
The museum has preserved a large number of objects displaying the local Szekely decorative art (textiles, national costumes, pottery, furniture, carvings in bone or wood).
Its indoor collection includes a photographic archive that portrays the town’s 20th century history. Béla Nagy, a local photographer, took more than 40.000 photographs in his Cristuru Secuiesc studio from 1926 to 1969 and donated his life work to the museum.
Another local artist, Ipó László, donated 26 oil paintings to the town for the creation of a gallery, that is now a permanent exhibition in the museum. The painter opened his first exhibition in Cristuru Secuiesc in 1936, before becoming known in Transylvania for his colorful landscapes and his portraits of the region’s outstanding personalities: István Molnár, Lajos Kelemen, Elek Benedek and many others.
The section of natural science is also worth mentioning: the 60 years old collection consists of stuffed animals, plants and rocks depicting the local fauna and flora.
Visitors will appreciate the museum’s outdoor ethnographic section, that includes a 1853 Szekely house, traditional Szekely carved wood gates and a rich collection of 19th century popular industrial devices: oil presses, querns, spinning wheels, fulleries, watermills and water saws.
The “Molnár István” museum manages the historical Gyárfás Mansion, which houses the Petőfi memorial and can be visited by appointment only.
(Winter) Mon-Fri 8-13
(Summer) Mon-Fri 8-13; Sat 10-16
It’s also possible to book visits on Sundays for groups of 20-30 people.
Guided tours are always available in Hungarian or Romanian (English and other languages by appointment only)
Tel: 0266 242580 (landline) / 0742 199043 (Ibolya Sándor Zsigmond, director of the museum)
Author: Francesca Silvestri