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Anonymous, 21st century: contemporary interpretation of a Baroque motive for the window of an interbellum building. Sibiu / Hermannstadt, 11 (18th century) and 13 (20th century) Alexandru Dimitrie Xenopol Street. August 2018. Photo by H. Derer 
Preserving History leads to Museification? 

H a n n a    D e r e r

Unlike the Romanian one, the English language officially comprises the word „museumization” a fact that only makes things worse for if one (really) thinks at the past and present museums, the pejorative meaning of this word is less than justified. As a matter of fact, the museums’ mission (and thus the goal of “museumization”) was and still is that of interpreting even if only by the choices to be made for mere displaying, no matter how old- or new-fashioned manner. Moreover, by this interpretation process, the exhibits are not that much enhanced, as better illuminated for a fair, impartial judgment. Obviously each individual and each generation has the right to such an impartial valuation but, equally obvious, the first necessary thing to this purpose is that the subject (still) exists. Consequently, once an object has been treasured and has survived due to this appreciation, the present is even more obliged to judge it carefully. Unlike the art object which is always unique and so fragile in its authentic matter that it bears no change at all, the building, the architectural ensemble, the village and the town, by far stronger as material, are the result par excellence of past interventions and therefore able to cope with present and future transformations. In brief, while protecting the art object consists solely in the removal of the unwanted traces of time, protecting history embodied in architecture and urban planning means an active type of interpretation even if it comes to simply replace the functionality. Art and science of this active way of interpreting clearly consists in changing what stands or requires changes without changing what was and is to be treasured. The connoisseurs call this type of attitude „preservation”; those ignorant unjustly disregard it as “museumization”.

Architect by education and specialized equally in history of architecture and preservation of cultural heritage, Hanna Derer is professor within the “Ion Mincu” University of Architecture and Urban Planning in Bucharest. Her research has materialized in studies for both fields of expertise, books, articles or contributions to different national and international symposia. Most of the results are being integrated within her teaching for students, whether from Romania, Belgium, Germany, Japan or Great Britain.

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