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ASTRA Museum of Transylvanian Civilization 

The legacy of the Association

Continuing and preserving the heritage and values of the Association's Museum, the ASTRA Museum of Transylvanian Civilization, an integral part of the ASTRA Museum, brings to its visitors the traditional world of charming multi-ethnic Transylvania. Collections of textiles, embroidery, ceramics, wood, icons and cult objects, photography and glass negatives hide and reveal themselves in stories. The museum, with its impressive and attractive heritage, totalling approx. 50,000 objects, proposes a return to the natural beauty of the traditional object in a modern and interactive exhibition.

Photo gallery

See below the photo gallery of the Museum of Transylvanian Civilization.

Why you should visit us?

The Universal Day of the Romanian blouse

An initiative launched in 2014 in recognition and appreciation of the complexity and beauty of RomanianBlouse, the event is organized every year around Midsummer's Day (24 June). The shirt with altiță (embroidery on the shoulder) became part of the UNESCO Intangible World Heritage on 1 December 2022, when the decision was adopted to inscribe the item "The art of the shirt with embroidery on the shoulder (altiță) - an element of cultural identity in Romania and the Republic of Moldova" on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Beautiful. Ceramic. Useful.

A different kind of potters' fair in the open-air museum in Dumbrava Sibiului, where you can meet the best cooks and potters. Since 2013, the event has been promoting utilitarian pottery, the craft of pottery and encouraging the cooking of traditional recipes on an open hearth in clay pots.

The National Olympiad of Traditional Artistic Crafts

Dedicated to the mission of rescuing traditional working techniques, the ASTRA Museum started in 1996 a project in partnership with the Sibiu County School Inspectorate with the aim of increasing children's interest in learning crafts. The most skillful children compete in front of the public in a competition event held in the open-air museum every year in July.

Hungarikum Days

The festival highlighting the Hungarian cultural heritage is organised in partnership with the Hungarian Cultural Centre in Sibiu and includes a variety of high quality activities: folk crafts fair, exhibitions, food tasting, concerts and activities for children. The star of the programme is the long-awaited stew/gulyas cooking competition in the Country Fair area of the Open Air Museum.


The ASTRA Museum of Transylvanian Civilization was founded in 1993 to represent the Transylvanian folk culture and civilization and is, first of all, the treasurer of the heritage values inherited from the Association's Museum, the first "national" museum of the Romanians of Transylvania, inaugurated on August 19, 1905, in Sibiu, through the efforts of ASTRA members.

ASTRA - Transylvanian Association for Romanian Literature and the Culture of the Romanian People was founded in Sibiu in 1861, with the aim to promote the material and spiritual development of the Romanians. Six years later it was planned to establish a Museum of Significance, with the aim of understanding, preserving, enhancing and popularizing their own cultural heritage. In 1881, the great ASTRA exhibition  was opened in Sibiu, and later, on 19-28 August 1905, the Association's Museum was inaugurated with a large ethnographic and cultural-historical exhibition in the "new palace" in the ASTRA Park (now the headquarters of the ASTRA County Library, building A).

Since 1950, for ideological reasons, the Museum of the Association was disbanded, and the entire patrimony was transferred to the Brukenthal Museum, to be displayed in 1957 (both the Romanian patrimony of the Museum of the Association and the Saxon patrimony of the Saxon Carpathian Society), by Cornel Irimie in the new Romanian Folk Art Exhibition of the Brukenthal Palace.

Part of the ASTRA National Museum Complex, the Museum of Transylvanian Civilization deals with the specifics of Romanian and Saxon folk culture in the Transylvanian area through its two collections, one of Romanian ethnography and the other of Saxon ethnography "Emil Sigerus", as well as the specifics of the culture of non-European peoples in the Museum of Universal Ethnography "Franz Binder".The main tasks of ASTRA Museum of Transylvanian Civilization are the thematic research of Transylvanian folk culture and civilization; scientific study of the collections and their communication through specific activities, such as publications, exhibitions, cultural and educational events, held in the open-air museum, at the Dr. Gheorghe-Telea Bologa Memorial Cultural Centre in Noul Român, Arpașu de Jos or at the Museum of the Țăra Secașelor area in Miercurea Sibiului.


The Multicultural Museum Pavilion located at the main entrance to the Open Air Museum, is a new, modern building built through the Norwegian financial mechanism within the framework of the Project "Open Heritage. Increasing public accessibility to the multi-ethnic values of ASTRA Museum's heritage" implemented under the programme PA16/RO12 "Preservation and Revitalisation of European Cultural and Natural Heritage".

The building houses spaces for temporary exhibitions, spaces for the proper storage of the collections, spaces for the organisation of conferences, as well as spaces for the offices of the museum staff and offers facilities for the reception of visitors.

Exhibition Popular culture in the work of the painter Viorel Mărginean

Flight of lights, museum views...

The ASTRA Museum hosts in the Multicultural Museum Pavilion, from 18.10. 2022 to 10.06.2023, the retrospective exhibition "Popular culture in the work of the painter Viorel Mărginean".

35 impressive paintings by Viorel Mărginean are exhibited alongside valuable objects from the ASTRA Museum collections, thus creating a delicate mirror of two harmoniously intersecting parallel spaces.

The beautiful church of Cenade is the warm core of light, attractive in its silence, simplicity and beauty.

The collection of covers, skirts, aprons, head scarfs, poetically outlines and illustrates the hills, mountains, plains, orchards, and flowering gardens of the artist's landscapes.

Of particular note is the special collection of 19 distaffs depicting an idealistic forest, taken from both painting and mountain. The soul-birds, grave posts and head scarfs rhyme metaphorically with the images in the paintings.

The exhibition of paintings signed by Viorel Mărginean was received with an open heart, the exhibition discourse offering a display of valuable heritage objects from the ASTRA Museum collection.

The exhibition images give a flight of lights over the hills made of head coverings and the stepped lands made of aprons, in the soft song of the forest of distaffs. These are the views of the museum...


The collections of the Museum of Transylvanian Civilization are diverse, including: clothing-textiles, embroidery, dolls; religious art objects - icons, painted eggs, masks, wooden, bone, iron and ceramic objects. Approximately 20% of the total number of heritage objects, 9002 pieces to be precise, are registered under the "A" logo and are definitely part of the heritage of the Association Museum. The museum also includes the collection belonging to the Dr. Telea Bologa Memorial Cultural Centre in the village of Noul Român, Arpașu de Jos commune.

The clothing-textile collection of the ASTRA Museum of Transylvanian Civilization has been gradually enriched, and today it includes representative pieces, reflecting all ethnographic areas of the country, giving us a clear picture of the traditional Romanian costume, as well as the way of organizing the interior of the peasant household. The museum from Sibiu, has items of women's, men's and children's folk costume: for headwear (black cloth, kerchief, veil, bandana, shawls, scarfs, hats, shepherds hat (clop) and so on.), garments covering the upper part of the body (women's shirt: with embroidered cuffs, with creases and embroidered stripes, straight or with tassel, men's shirt: with embroidered head opening, with lapels, waistcoat, laibar, breastplate, breastplate with tucks and splits, sheepskin, sarică (sleeveless woolen coat), hood, bituşă (insideout sheepskin)·, bubou, suman), garments covering the lower part of the body (skirts, shawls, capes, sheets, zadii, photæ, opreg, underpants, hammocks or nádragi, yarmulkes, gaci), footwear (obiele, heels, clogs, knotted boots, boots, shoes), pieces for girdling the middle (sticks, girdle, kimir, serge, studded belt), pieces of ornaments (locket, chain with keys, coin necklace, veil pins, beads, rings, collars, long necklaces with pieces of coral and murano glass beads).

Embroidery Collection ASTRA Museum manages one of the richest collections of embroidery in the country, about 10,000 items. Most of these are sewn separately, on cloth, and are decisive in terms of locality, technique, ornament and provenance. Most of the embroideries come from Ardeal (Sibiu area, i.e. Mărginimea Sibiului, 1,917 designs; Țara Oltului, 2,949 designs; Țara Bârsei, 583 designs, etc.) and Banat. Of these, 270 models were collected by Dimitrie Comșa and published in the album: Din ornamentica română, Sibiu, 1904. The pieces in the collection represent: patterns of stitches, each one separately reproduced on canvas: geometricalmotifs  cross stitch,running stitch, split stitch, back stitch, stem stich, on the ruffle,  over the needle, behind the needle, they appear in combination as well, such as: cross and broken stitch, cross and over needle, line and back stitch; patterns for sheepskin embroidery stitches on leather.

The collection of peasant religious art objects includes icons painted on wood and glass, crosses, seals, woodcuts, church vestments. The icons in the museum's collection, painted on wood or glass, follow Byzantine iconographic themes, although sometimes the manner of interpretation is creative. The main icon centres represented in the museum's collection are Nicula and Gherla - Cluj County, Laz and Lancrăm - Alba County, Șcheii Brașov and Făgăraș - Brașov County, Mărginimea Sibiului and Sibiu. Among the icon-makers, Savu Moga from Arpaș and Matei Purcăriu Țâmforea from Cârțișoara stand out.

The museum's heritage also includes important pieces that make up the props of the customs of the cycle of life or those of the year. The most numerous category of objects are the embelishedeggs, which bear witness to a craft once practised throughout the country. These 'little masterpieces' speak of the craftsmanship and faith of those who created them. The most interesting pieces come from northern Moldavia and the Vrance area. In the ASTRA Collection we find eggs from Bran or from the Olt area, particularly sumptuous for their simplicity and nobility in the harmonies of red, yellow, black and white.

Wood. Bones. Metal collection is representative for the entire Romanian area, comprising pieces with the most diverse uses in the multiple fields of human activity. The collection holds a large number of tools for various traditional occupations: tools or component parts used in agriculture (wooden ploughs, scythe sharpeners, yokes, saddles), in harvesting (blueberry rakes and hazelnut splitters), in beekeeping (beehives or bee traps), hunting (bone horns for gunpowder), weaving and fibre processing (looms, loom beams, spindles, reeds, heddles, reed frames, combs, scutchers, warping tools, rattles, distaffs, honeycombs, warping machines, or hemp warping runners). Pastoral instruments are of great artistic value because of their shapes, proportions and decoration. What stands out are the wooden cups carved from a single piece of wood, decorated with embosed geometric motifs.The cheese patterns or dolls' the round or rectangular gingerbread or butter moulds are decorated with deep indentations in highly stylised geometric and/or vegetal shapes. To these are added shepherd's sticks and various shepherd's dishes: milking cups, buckets, throughs used for cheese and the measuring sticks. 

ASTRA Museum of Transylvanian Civilization is the manager of one of the most representative collections of distaffs in the country, constituted by Octavian Tăslăuanu, a prominent figure of Romanian culture. The collection also includes genuine pieces of furniture, with a large proportion of painted Transylvanian furniture: dowry chests, countertops, cupboards for dishes or food (podişoare and armăroaie). Musical wind instruments are also predominant: flutes, bagpipes, panflutes, alpine horns, ocarinas, but also stringed instruments: violins, lutes.

The collection of pottery was gradually enriched, and now includes pieces representative for the pottery centres, which have disappeared from the ethnographic map of Romania. The pieces in the collection are made in different techniques: hand-made, wheel-made or pressed in moulds. We find in the collection: "brâie" ceramics from Biniș, Baia Mare, Oboga or Curtea de Argeș; pre-fired painted vessels from Bihor and Banat; horn and brush painted ceramics from Vlădești, Horezu, Leheceni, Târgu Lăpuș, Vama, Valea Izei; wheel-printed pottery from Marginea; "seal" pottery from Oboga and Româna; stone-polished vessels from Marginea, Poiana Deleni and Săcel; glazed pottery from Vlădești. The ASTRA Museum of Transylvanian Civilization also holds the inventory of the potter's workshop: the pottery wheel, the trough, the trowel, the knife, the horn, the needle, the grinder, etc.

Collection of Documentary Graphics and Glass Negatives In a world of speed, where everything passes through us and around us, photography is the only way to capture Time, to suspend it. The Collection of Documentary Graphics and Glass Negatives in the ASTRA Museum Collection offers us such a sliver of Time frozen on photographic paper or fragile pieces of glass.

Taken in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the photographs and clichés by famous photographers such as Emil and Josef Fischer, Kamilla Asbóth, Theodor Glatz, Alexander Roșu, Carol Szathmari, Leopold Adler, Rudolf Czeck, Friedrich Kröpfel, Alex. Maierhofer or August Meinhardt, immortalize the Romanian village, especially the Transylvanian one, in all its aspects. True artists, the photographers (re)construct idyllic landscapes in their studios, in which Romanians, Saxons, Hungarians and Roma alike show off their refined folk costumes by "posing" in various poses taken from everyday life.

The collection's particular documentary value resides in the diversity of the images captured outside the workshops, where the real life of the peasants takes place, on the alleys of the villages, at the gates of the churches, on the porch of the houses and at the fountains at the crossroads.

Born on September 4, 1922 in Gura Râului, Maria Hanzu was one of the most passionate weavers in the Marginimea Sibiului area. She inherited her talent and weaving technique from her mother and, for her dedication and skill, she was awarded  various prizes.

Over time, Maria Hanzu's house has become a real museum of traditions in Gura Râului. Among the items collected is an embroidery album containing samples of embroidery used to decorate the traditional blouses from Gura Râului.

In 2012 it became part of the ASTRA Museum's heritage, being an integral part of the Embroidery collection. The pieces contained in the album are accompanied by information on dating, details on the people who made and wore them, details on the names of the motifs and techniques used, all of which add to the uniqueness of the collection.

The inestimable value of the embroideries and the dedication of Mrs. Hanzu lead us to make public the embroidery album inviting you, on this way, to delight and to load your soul with tradition, authenticity and beauty and especially to sew inspired by these samples.

The digitization of the album was made possible with the support of the ASTRA Library colleagues.

You can see photos by clicking here.
You can see the whole album by clicking here.

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