The Visual and the National: the Making of the Transylvanian Ethnographic Museum (1902)
Szabó Levente
 

3. The logic behind the (visual) logic: the rationale of the visual narrative offered by the Transylvanian ethnographic museum

Even the visual logic of the exhibition is a significant sign of the narrative embedded into the logic of the selection and organization of the folk objects and representations of the folk and the land. This narrative is partly compelled since both the Romanians and the Saxons withdraw from the preliminary discussions of the museum, but on the other hand they both withdraw mostly because the tendency of the narrative that will unfold actually by their refusal to participate in the exhibition. So it is both a cause and a consequence of this state of the art that the museum is organized according to the following logic, reported by the annual detailed accounts of the touristic society:

"The museum takes up 12 rooms of the birthplace of King Mátyás. The far left room of the ground floor contains the library of the society [?] The nearby room is closed and used as a store-room for the identical objects. The left room is the first to open the exhibition: it is the room where our king was born and exhibits historical [Transylvanian] objects like the skirt of Brandenburgi Katalin, the church chairs of Mihály Apaffy [?] together with the flag of our society. The next rooms are at the disposal of the balneological section [?] The whole upper floor and all the corridors are taken by the ethnographic section according to the following rationale: 1) several types of varrotas, 2) a traditional room from Kalotaszeg, 3) a traditional kitchen from Kalotaszeg, 4) weaving and spinning, 5) domestic clay industry, 6) ancient trades (hunting, fishing, shepherd activities), 7) agriculture. "

It is obvious that while the museum grasps the logic and model of the millennial exhibition and the Hungarian Ethnographic Museum, it also rewrites this "Western? tradition by submitting its own central ethnographic loci and the objects characteristic to them. By this gesture the new exhibitionary space is made both to complete and broaden, but also to rival the Hungarian ethnographic framework offered in the Budapest museum.

For instance, the way to the upper floor is introduced by a miniature version of the Seklar gate. The bench on the corridor is also made by Seklar wood-carvers. "Its pairs can be ordered at the direction of the museum anytime.? The ceiling of each room of the exhibition is from the Unitarian churches of Kiskend and Nagykend. It seems that there is a strong rivaling tendency towards the Budapest exhibition: while the Kolozsvár visual narrative takes partly its logic, it also re-centres it around its own "strong" points. This rivaling character can be also partly the explanation why the emerging and establishing discipline of ethnography in its Transylvanian definition forwarded on the occasion of the establishing the ethnographic museum subsumes all the other humanistic and social disciplines of the new disciplinary system:

"All the objects exhibited can be divided into two separate groups: the proper ethnographic part includes folk architecture, interiors, clothing and embroidery, working tools, folk customs, folkish [?népies?] literature [!], music, dance and finally sociology [!]; the second group comprises the auxiliary sciences of ethnography [!]: geography, anthropology, demography and liguistics dealing with the language of the folk.? It is also in this stream of thought how the exhibition was recontextualizing the then contemporary Hungarian anthropology: it brought to the forefront the bust of a male and female from Kalotaszeg ?that are characteristic to the main type having brown hair, eyes and skin, circular head, and middle size, present in Kalotaszeg in 54 per cent. The busts were made on the basis of the original measurements and photos archived in the Hungarian Ethnographic Museum."

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