Have you ever heard the saying: "what’s one man’s trash is another man’s treasure"? I have found this to be true. Each one of us is different, with distinctive styles and likes. This is the reason why nowadays one can find and buy anything under the sun. In Bucharest, Romania’s capital, what is considered by most people to be kitsch, is something very treasured in a museum in the city’s center. The Romanian Kitsch Museum houses showy objects from the past and the present, luring people in from all over the world.
Since visiting an entire museum filled with kitsch objects became so popular in Bucharest, I decided to find out what exactly makes something kitschy. In the dictionary, kitsch is described as being "art, design or an object which is of poor taste". Something kitschy is tacky, non-thought provoking, and is unlikely to induce true emotion. Nevertheless, kitschy objects often enough find their way into most households. This could be because these sort of items are good conversation starters and are fun to talk about.
The notion of kitsch has been around since the 1920s and comes from Germany. Today, kitsch is either viewed as something to be avoided or is used by some as a way to rebrand old products. In some cases, placing the label kitsch on a product can sometimes make it popular again.
Kitsch objects have a growing fandom, so it’s not surprising that someone took their love of kitsch to the next level and opened a museum dedicated to it. Cristian Lica is the owner of this private museum, whose selection of kitsch is being mostly his personal collection. Only about 10-15 percent of the exhibits have been donated to the museum by Romanian citizens.
From the perspective of a person born and raised in Romania, it was a strange experience to enter this uncommon museum. The reason for this might be that several items seen there have reminded me of my childhood and of the objects that my grandparents used to have in their home. Useless porcelain trinkets of dogs, angels, and children playing, the types of which my grandparents used to cherish, now have their home in this museum.
There are many things to enjoy in the Kitsch museum, one of the main attractions being an entire late-20th-century Romanian bedroom filled with kitschy objects and decorum. The design is repetitive and too colourful, with more than one wall carpet. The plastic flowers and fruits are strategically placed in the room, and there is also underwear drying on a clothesline in the middle of the space. Doilies and fish made out of glass are the finishing touches to this room, that so many Romanians have had at some point in their lives.
If this kitsch bedroom hasn’t convinced you to visit this entertaining museum, then rest assured to know that the main collection has more than one subdivision. There are sections dedicated to Dracula; the last communist Romanian leader, Ceauşescu; gypsy fashion and much more. There is even a section where you can make your own kitsch and leave it there as part of the collection. Even the bathroom screams kitsch, all of the walls being signed and having all sorts of messages written on them. The staff of the museum encourages visitors to write their own notes in the bathroom, wherever they can still find space, the writings already being overflowing.
It is possible that after visiting the Kitsch Museum in all of its glory, some of you will wish to take Romanian kitsch items back home with you. Rest assured that you will easily find some, especially in the Romanian thrift stores. Here, you can discover trinkets and doilies that will satisfy your kitsch needs. They will certainly become one of the most discussed items of your household.
In the case of kitsch, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. For us to appreciate an item, it must speak to us, and because every one of us is unique, the chances are that all of the world's objects will eventually find their forever home with someone who enjoys them. All of the museum's showy objects have once belonged to people's homes and were cherished by them. Now, they get the opportunity to be loved again by those who enter the museum's gates. Perhaps you'd like being one of those people next time you visit Bucharest. The treasured Romanian kitsch collection awaits you to show you its uniqueness.
Did you like the travel story?
Get more! Subscribe to our monthly inspiration newsletter.