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ROM(a)NOR Interferences Roma cultural heritage revival project debuts at Village Museum

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Muzeul Satului

A fully furnished Roma household will be rebuilt in the next two years at the 'Dimitrie Gusti' National Village Museum under the ROM(a)NOR Interferences project launched on Monday at the museum's headquarters, which will see the movable cultural assets undergo preservation and restoration by museum experts.

"Through this project, which will be carried out with Norwegian funds and in partnership with a major Norwegian museum - Anno Museum, we will bring a Roma house to the Village Museum, in a first for an open-air museum in Romania. The Norwegian museum's activity is focused on the research of the Roma community, not only from Norway, where they represent a small community, but also from other European countries. They have done research in Africa, for example," Village Museum manager Paulina Popoiu told AGERPRES.

The project targets the Roma minority as a whole, audiences in Romania and Norway, as well as the organizing museums (the "Dimitrie Gusti" National Village Museum and Anno Museum) and is aimed at revitalizing the Roma cultural heritage by identifying typical elements of vernacular architecture.

"We are also interested in intangible customs and heritage, we want to put together a Roma heritage collection, because we have only very few such items at the Village Museum and in two years, when the project is completed, we hope to be able to concretely show the public in Bucharest a Roma home and a selection of this ethnic community's heritage. We will have training courses for 250 Roma from all over the country, and I hope that at the end of the project, although there is no money earmarked for this, we will also set up a Crafts Evaluation Center, with the resources of the Village Museum," said Popoiu.

The Village Museum manager also informed that Anno Museum conservator and Roma culture and history expert Mari Osthaug Moystad will accompany the research team of the Bucharest institution, for the beginning to Calarasi County. "The project also implies research in 35 Roma villages and we start with Calarasi," Popoiu added.

Anno Museum director general Jan Hof Jorgensen gave an extensive presentation of the work of the Norwegian institution at the project launch conference, pointing out that Roma culture is one of the main interests of the Norwegian museum.

Declaring himself impressed by ROM(a)NOR Interferences, he went on to say:

We have been running projects dedicated to the Roma since 1997, a community that arrived in northern Europe in the ninth century. We rely on this cooperation with the Village Museum to understand more about the Roma community. This is our first time in Romania and we were impressed, we only knew about your country from the news about Ceausescu's fall, but now we see that you have a European country, just as Norway. We visited Bran Castle and Peles Castle. Impressive. We have just one castle, the Royal Palace in Oslo, which cannot be visited, Jorgensen told AGERPRES.

Attending the project launch event were Anno Museum representatives, the Culture Ministry's Secretary of State Madalin Voicu and Undersecretary of State Irina Cajal, who voiced their support for the project's unfolding under the best conditions, director of the Culture Ministry's Project Management Unit Bogdan Trambaciu, and Roma anthropologist Vasile Ionescu, for whom "the interesting part of this one-off project will be that of cultural history".

The Rromnorri Ensemble from Braila offered a dance micro-show.

A complex and unique initiative, the ROM(a)NOR Interferences project represents, according to its initiators, "an incursion in time and space to promote, capitalize on and revitalize the cultural heritage specific to the Roma ethnicity through museology and social inclusion, with a view to improving the situation of the Roma population."

Based on the field research carried out in the counties of Constanta, Ialomita, Calarasi, Giurgiu, Teleorman, Olt and Gorj, a specific, full-inventory household will be subsequently rebuilt at the Village Museum.

Another major component of the project envisages the participation of the Roma community in debates, training activities and public events. Social inclusion solutions will be provided through creative industry and traditional crafts, entrepreneurship and cultural heritage courses.

The Norwegian partner Anno Museum will participate in research campaigns, the transfer of restoration and curatorial expertise and debate sessions focused on identifying solutions for reviving and promoting traditional Roma crafts, and will also organize in Romania a temporary exhibition dedicated to Norway's Roma minority.

The predefined project ROM(a)NOR Interferences is implemented by the "Dimitrie Gusti" National Village Museum with financial support from the EEA Grants 2014 - 2021 through the RO-Cultura Program.

The RO-Cultura program is implemented by the Culture Ministry through the Project Management Unit and has as as a general objective the consolidation of economic and social development through cultural cooperation, cultural entrepreneurship and cultural heritage management. The program's budget is approximately 34 million euros.

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