Piscu School Museum and Workshop
The Piscu School Museum and Workshop, near Bucharest, is a place where cultural heritage, contemporary art and ceramics come together to generate a cultural and educational hub in a former village pottery. It was initiated by a family – the art historian Adriana Scripcariu and the sculptor Virgil Scripcariu. The costs of setting up and running the Piscu School were mainly covered by small grants from private and state institutions and self-financing.
The project started in 2007 with researching and collecting objects related to the local heritage and then sharing the results with the local community, especially with the local children. In 2016, the creation of a new cultural space to exhibit artefacts, receive visitors, and host cultural and educational events, was initiated with the help of architecture students and professors. This space brings together tradition (the pottery-making heritage) and urban culture and modernity (the building) and was built with the help of volunteers. Kaufland Romania also provided generous sponsorship for the new building. Launched in February 2021, the museum has since managed to attract around 10,000 visitors. It features exhibitions (regarding the memory of the community, heritage artefacts and contemporary art), a multimedia space and several craft workshops.
The Piscu School Museum and Workshop continues to grow each year, with new activities and tools to promote local and national heritage – summer schools, workshops, seminars for pupils and teachers and school books. Another added value of the initiative is the high degree of community involvement in the project. This includes the donation or sale of their pots for the collection, giving their time for long interviews, opening their houses and old photo albums, participating in cultural and/or open-door events, performing the craft of pottery-making for visitors, and tutoring young people and teenagers in traditional skills. Due to these actions, Piscu gained the title of Cultural Village of Romania in 2017.
Besides preserving local cultural heritage and returning a sense of pride to a community whose craft faced a significant decline, the project also generated continuity. There are currently six people from the younger generation who work with clay, teach children, produce goods, and make their local community more aware of its history and heritage.
“This is a strong approach to sustaining local heritage and economic wellbeing based on learning by doing. The creation and development of the Piscu School Museum and Workshop has been an iterative and collaborative process, not a one-shot initiative, which has already demonstrated its significant and lasting impact on the surrounding community. The activities extend beyond teaching a practical skill, to focus on the intangible heritage and the community value of this traditional craft”, stated the Awards’ Jury.