Photographer's Note

The history of the Romanian Athenaeum is closely linked to the activity of the Romanian Athenaeum Cultural Society established in 1865 at the initiative of personalities of the cultural and scientific life, such as C. Esarhu, V. A. Urechia, C. A. Rosetti, and Al. Odobescu.

Since its inauguration, the Romanian Philharmonic Society intended to create its own building that would serve as a monument to Romanian art, science, and culture. C. Exsarhu states: “The building shall be exclusively dedicated to art and science and the architecture shall comply with this purpose”.
Based on this concept, a national subscription list was created in order to collect funds (“Give 1 leu for the Athenaeum”), and in 1886 the French architect Albert Galeron proposed a project together with the greatest Romanian architects of his times: G. Cerchez, C. Olanescu, I. Mincu, I. Gr. Cantacuzino. In 1888, the new building was inaugurated even though work continued until 1897 due to the lack of sufficient funds. The Romanian Athenaeum Society used the building for different purposes, such as organizing conferences, symphonic concerts of the Romanian Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as painting exhibitions (beginning with 1894, the official belle-arts salons were held in this hall). Since its inauguration in 1888 and up to present, the Philharmonic Orchestra has had regular concerts in the concert hall of the Athenaeum.

Built in a neoclassic style, the building of the Athenaeum has a rather eclectic style, with many end-of-century and typical French decorations. Twelve columns with embossed ornaments support the central part of the ground floor. From the rotonda, one can reach the hall by four monumental Carrara marble stairways, one of which, the honorary stairway, is reserved for special occasions. A remarkable piece of work is a 75 m-long and 3 m-wide painting, created between 1933 and 1938. Professor Costin Petrescu used the “al fresco” technique. The painting represents “an open book of national history” for its admirers.

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