Must-do Experience in Bucharest: Ferestroika
Time is passing and with time we are losing certain practices, experiences and things we used to enjoy. Would not it be great to go into a time machine to see how people used to live in the past and experience their way of life? This is exactly what happened to us when we visited Ferestroika, an interactive museum dedicated to life in Romania during communist years.
I grew up during Communism myself and I was curious to see if a museum visit would match up with the past reality. I am happy to say that the founders of the Ferestroika did an amazing job in creating something , which is an absolute delight to discover! It took me straight back to my childhood.
The idea of Ferestroika came from one of the museum founders. The flat of her grandfather was standing empty. Instead of taking everything to the landfill and refurbishing the place in a more modern fashion, she had an idea to preserve the flat as a time capsule. Visitors to Ferestroika are now able to see what it is like to live in Romania in the 80s. The museum tells the story of ordinary people: their joys, struggles, fears and achievements.
You have a feeling that the owners just stepped out for a second, and will be coming back in a minute. It was so real, even the smells were reminiscent of the past.
The museum is small and your visit can be booked online. Due to the size of the flat, the experience will be intimate , as only a few people are allowed on the tour. Small group tours only add to the enjoyment and offer an opportunity to explore all the aspects at your own pace.
In fact, when we started the tour our helpful tour guide Alexandru asked us whether we wanted to explore the flat ourselves and then ask questions. Another options is that the guide tells you about each room. We chose second option, as Alexandru currently doing his PhD at the University of Bucharest, Faculty of History. He has a great knowledge about the period as well as such subjects as propaganda and history of communism.
We explored 4 rooms in total: kitchen, children room, parents bedroom and a living room. You can also see storage area, little hallway and bathroom.
My absolute favorite places were kitchen, kids room and a living room. Throughout the tour you will also have an opportunity to taste certain things, but I will leave it to you to experience!
In the kitchen we heard the story of how ordinary Romanians would lead their daily lives, their struggles with rationed food and monthly cards. I have to say, I did not realise that their lives were that hard due to rationing, constant surveillance and propaganda. External debt and leadership ambitions for the country meant that ordinary people had to work hard and sacrifice everything. Despite this, there was not enough of day to day necessities, like food, electricity or gas. Quite a stark contrast compared to our age of overindulgence.
The museum is a great hands-on history lesson for kids, as it offers a time machine journey into the 80s. When we did not have as many toys as we wanted. When TV was only showing a limited programme of cartoons in black and white and you did not have a choice of which cartoons to watch.
Kids room also offers a great insight into daily chidren’s life, their activities at school and in their free time. My daughter loved looking at homework books, discovering why bananas were kept on top of the cupboard in old papers and what it was like to be a pioneer.
The real attraction of Ferestroika is that it is based on a story of a real family. who used to live in the flat for many years. There are many personal objects on display and Alexandru was happy to share object’s stories and where they came from. Letitia also loved the fact that it was a no rule museum. You can touch everything, there were no “No Access” areas. She tried the military hat on, made a video on the old camera and tried weighing the bag with an old fashioned scales. For kids one of the best way to learn is by handling objects and hearing their stories.
Ferestroika also offers an opportunity for the overnight stay. If you fancy spending the night at the museum, you can book it here. Alternatively, they are working with local chefs and food enthusiasts to host communist style dinners. If you book this experience, you will have a museum tour and get to experience the time through its dishes. I will definitely be going for that next time!
Personally, Ferestroika is a must do activity in Bucharest. You will hardly experience something similar in a conventional museum. Actual stories of the real family make the whole visit more relatable and close to your heart. If you only have time for one museum in Bucharest, make it Ferestroika!
Disclaimer: Our visit was hosted by Ferestroika, but all opinions are my own.