Housed in the majestic former Royal Palace, which stands on Revolution Square and dates from 1812, the National Museum of Art of Romania opened in 1947; it was subsequently badly damaged in the Romanian Revolution of 1989, which saw the downfall and death of Communist despot Nicolae Ceaușescu. The museum reopened fully in 2005, displaying three major collections spread over three floors of the palace, and is now regarded as Romania’s premier art gallery.
The European Paintings and Sculpture galleries include mighty Old Master treasures from the private collection of King Charles I – the likes of Rembrandt, Rubens, El Greco and the Impressionists – while the Romanian Medieval collections feature glittering silver icons, rare manuscripts and stone sculptures in the Lapidarium, found in the restored cellars of the palace. The Romanian Modern galleries are jam-packed with works such as modernist sculptures by Constantin Brancuşi, the best-known of Romania’s 20th-century artists.
An ever-changing selection of temporary exhibitions highlights the best of contemporary Romanian art, from installations to photography, drawings and prints. The museum is currently in the process of handing back artwork stolen from Romanian nationals in the Soviet-era late 1940s, and guided tours of the palace’s sumptuous royal apartments are now available, at a cost of 20 lei.
Open May–Sept Wed–Sun 11am–7pm; Oct–Apr Wed–Sun 10am–6pm. Admission adults 15 lei; seniors & students 7.5 lei; free first Wednesday of every month. Take the metro to Piaţa Romană or Universitate.