The National Art Museum of Cluj possesses an extremely precious patrimony of Romanian and European art: painting, sculpture, grafics and decorative art.
Set up in 1951, the muzeum has ever since benefitted by older stocks small part of an old curiosities collection, furniture and European art proceded from Transylvanian Museum and the „Virgil Cioflec’s paintings collection”.
Virgil Cioflec (1876-1948) is the author of important monographs dedicated to painters like Stefan Luchian (1924) and Nicolae Grigorescu (1925) and also of some relevant works on art published in the press of the time and it is his name to which an important act of culture is connected: the donation of his Romanian art collection to the University of Cluj (1929-1930).
The opening to the public of Virgil Cioflec’s painting collection meant, in fact, the inauguration in Cluj of the first Romanian modern art museum, whose successor became the National Art Museum of Cluj. Created with the passion and ability of the expert able to prize the aknowledged values
Nicolae Grigorescu , Stefan Luchian , Dimitrie Paciurea ) and to declare with clear-sightedness the affirmation of the genuine talents ( Teodor Pallady, Camil Ressu, Iosif Iser, Rodica Maniua, Nicolae Darascu, Stefan Dimitrescu , Nicolae Tonitza , Vasile Popescu, Jean Al.Steriadi, Lucian Grigorescu, Oscar Han, Cornel Medrea) the collection of Virgil Cioflec stil represents the precious nucleus of the National Art Museum’s patrimony.
The abundance of the museum stock has fullfilled in the following from the setting up on account of some transfers, donations and by aquisitions. An important background from the Branch of the Romanian Academy in Cluj, has been added (1971) to the works transfered to the museum buy the Ministry of Culture, the Art Museum of Bucharest and the City administration (Barbu Iscovescu, Constantin David Rosenthal, Theodor Aman , Gheorghe Tattarescu, Gheorghe Panaiteanu-Bardasare, Carol Popp de Szathmary, Ion Andreescu , Karl Storck).
Including important works of art from Transylvania anonymous painters from the 18-th and 19-th centuriers, Franz Neuhauser, Joseph Neuhauser , Franz Anton Bergman, Koreh Sigismund, Szathmary Gati Sandor,Simo Franz ) this background has substantially contributed to the outlining of a characteristic physiognomy of the patrimony.
The research work procedeed during the years by the work of the museum experts, and it permitted to introduce to the national artistic circuit remarcable art personalities of Transylvania: Elena Popea , Alexandru Popp, Pericle Capidan, Szolnay Sandor, Tasso Marchini , Aurel Ciupe, Romul Ladea, Petre Abrudan, Emil Cornea, Nagy Albert, Teodor Harsia, Fulop Antal Andor, Alexandru Mohy , Georgeta and Constantin Ticu Aramescu, Ioan Sima, Petru Feier, Anton Lazar, Walter Wiedmann, Bene Jozsef, Letitia Muntean, Coriolan Munteanu, Friederich Bomches, Sabin Nemes, Nicolae Agarbiceanu, Valer Chende, Egon Marc Lovith, Constantin Lucaci. These retrospective exhibitions determined important donations from the artists and their families, as well as from behalf of some art collectors. Due to these it was in 1988 that the Museum of Donations has been set up in Cluj.
The researching work has guided a programe for acquisitions mainly directed on highighting the creation of the artists native from or active in Transylvania ( Aloisie Hora, Misu Popp, Venceslav Melka , Sava Hentia, Simion Corbul Hollossy, Octavian Smigelschi, Dimitrie Cabadaef, Nagy Istvan, Sabin Popp, Aurel Popp, Hans Eder, Johann Mattis Teutsch, Virgil Fulicea) and it also helped on rounding the old art patrimony ( icons of the 17-th 18-th century) and Romanian modern art ( Gheorghe Petrascu , Francisc Sirato, Ion Theodorescu Sion, Alexandru Phoebus, Corneliu Mihailescu, Alexandru Ziffer, Thorma Janos, Corneliu Baba, Ioan Georgescu, Ion Jalea, Ion Irimescu, Dimitrie Ghiata, Ion Tuculescu).
A representative selection of the Romanian paintry and sculpture collection from the museum patrimony, spotlighting the evolution of the Romanian art within the 16-th to 20-th century is shown off as part of the National Gallery of the museum.
The National Gallery benefits of a generous wide space for exhibitions, placed upstairs of an important baroque building of the 18-th century: the Banffy Palace of Cluj, work of the German architect Johann Eberthard Blaumann.