The Bucharest of
Mircea Eliade

Date & Location

2021, Bucharest


National Museum of Romanian Literature

As the traces of interwar Bucharest physically begin to fade in our days for various reasons, the fictional interwar Bucharest of the great Romanian scholar’s books describe it as a seductive and mysterious city.

But what could be a city built of words? Because Eliade’s Bucharest is the city we find scattered in novels and novellas, but even more, it is spread in the words, thoughts and moods of many fictional characters. Even the Bucharest of the diaries or memories is still a city of words, that is, of a reality filtered by memory, emotion and chance, which in the end becomes a mental construction.

Our project represents a literary geography of Bucharest, made on maps from 1914, 1928, 1938 on which we have marked real places, houses and streets that really existed and that to a large extent remain today. On these maps I have marked not only real streets and buildings, but also characters and narrative moments or literary passages that make that street or house a significant place.
The exhibition also features a number of current photographs of the streets mentioned, along with some vintage photographs. At first glance, what remains in the built reality of Eliade’s city is a substantial collection of Neo-Romanian, eclectic and modernist architecture.

Thus, we tried to get closer to that layer of original architecture and decorations that the courtyards of interwar town houses had. Deliberately, the photographs were edited black and white to blur the colourful presence of the new layers. As far as possible, we have reduced the impact of the graffiti on the walls and advertisements, and therefore the colours of the cars, to create a balance between old and new images.

The exhibition is structured in 7 chapters, as they appear on the large map at the beginning of the exhibition. Beyond the urban archaeology of street names, character and tram 14 routes, event scenes and house typologies, 7 cinematic installations offer an artistic commentary on selected literary passages. Inspired by film techniques from the beginnings of cinema, the 7 installations invite you to experiment with them to trigger an animated sequence, or to recompose your own Eliade’s Bucharest.

Project organized by: National Museum of Romanian Literature (NMRL) together with The Order of Romanian Architects, Bucharest Branch
Project financed by: The Order of Romanian Architects from the Architectural Stamp Duty
Project co-financed by: The Administration of the National Cultural Fund – ANCF
The project does not necessarily represent the position of The Administration of the National Cultural Fund. ANCF is not responsible for the content of the project or the manner in which the results of the project may be used. These are entirely the responsibility of the funding recipient.

Director of NMRL: Ioan Cristescu
Research author, scientific consultant: Andreea Răsuceanu
Curator: Cosmina Goagea
Creative director: Constantin Goagea
Architecture study, exhibition design, illustration, sounds, interactive experience: Zeppelin Design / Cristina Ginara, Ioana Naniș, Alexandru Voicu, Alexandru Ivanof, Emanuel Birtea, Andrei Angelescu, Maria Mora
Photo documentation: Andreea Cel Mare
Documentary movie: Andreea Răsuceanu, Sorin Alexandrescu, Eugen Ciurtin
Communication: Mugur Grosu
Events and exhibition coordinator NMRL: Gabriela Toma, Olimpia Novicov
Translation: Ana-Maria Sasu
Production: Atelier SET / Emanuel Birtea, Andrei Angelescu
Print: AZERO, The Plot, Print Design Advertising, Promotas Advertising
Video editing: Cristina Baciu, Alexandru Ivanof

Photo credits: The historical photos in the chapters ‘City of Eliade’ and ‘Modernist Bucharest’ are from Andreea Răsuceanu’s book, ‘The Bucharest of Mircea Eliade’; the historical photos in the chapter ‘Violent Bucharest’ are presented with the courtesy of the Pitești Prison Memorial and Online communism photo collection.

All photos of this presentation belong to Andrei Mărgulescu.

Thanks to Professor Sorin Alexandrescu for permission to reproduce texts from Mircea Eliade’s literary work in the exhibition.