"Deams' Nest" Museum, Maieru


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"Deams' Nest" Museum, Maieru

The village Maieru has been granted in the memories of Liviu Rebreanu a privileged place, by underlying the deep meaning of his childhood in his becoming as a great writer.The nostalgia in the description of his own village, in numerous occasions is overwhelming, being highlighted by all the exegetes of his work.

“Maieru appears again and again as an oasis of happiness, an eternal promised land. Its boundaries, as modest as they are in reality, are lost in dreams, surrounding the endless kingdom of childhood, treasuring the oldest memories, the legends with dragons and prince-charming, the secrets of the surrounding world, the first friends, the first games, the torture and joy of learning, together with everything connected to the innocence of the first years”. (Niculae Gheran)    

Laying at the feet of the Rodnei Mountains, of the Ineu Peak, the one bearing “eternal snow”, Maieru is the ancient heart, the pearl of Romanian survival, the village at the highest altitude “on the way that comes from Cârlibaba, accompanying the Someș, to the left and to the right” to use the starting sentence from “Ion”. The nature of the village Maieru, harsh and kind in the same time, the inhabitants, fierce guardians of traditions and ancestral idiom, scattered with bitter or sweet sayings, legends and ballads, its bicentennial school, well known in the region for the fame of the pedagogic worthiness, were to “Liviu of the tutor” the first impulses on the way of his gigantic creation. “I grew up in the mountains, completely free. There was no piece of land in my village that I haven’t stepped on. Man of the mountains and forests, the nature got into my eyes and soul ever since I was a small child. The Somes valley, so well known, up to the smallest twists and turns, has been for me the most beautiful spot on the face of the earth”.

 So, the motivation of founding here, more than half a century ago, of a museum (November 27th 1957), came, naturally, on the one hand by means of the confessions of the writer himself, numerous and rich in significations, making the decision to choose one first, even more difficult. Should we stop here, we had to end up with this synthetic emblematic sentence: “In Maieru I lived the most beautiful and happy days of my life.....”. Slogan words under whose spell, the majority of the village’s children, under the supervision of their tutors, created an institution of aspirations and light, more and more talked about. Let us cross the threshold of this place born in the heart of a matrix-village, by its inhabitants, villages of all ages.


The “Dreams’ nest” Museum has a mixed profile: historic-ethnographic and memorial, and was opened on November 27th 1957, at the initiative of the professor Sever Ursa, by opening a memorial exhibition occasioned by the 72nd birth anniversary of the great novelist, exhibition that had the chance to remain the sustainable hearth of the museum. 

The faint establishment from 53 years ago, started growing and enriching and it had to move several times, up to 1972 when there was built the ground floor of this edifice.  Exhibition space was needed, as we thought of a village museum built around the image of a great writer who came to the world in this place.

In the fall of 1985, on the occasion of the birth centennial of Liviu Rebreanu, there was added one more floor to the edifice, thanks to the contribution of the community and county council. The collections grew richer thanks to the donations of the writer’s family, of the villagers and of many intellectuals - sons of the village - and especially of the many sons of the village Maieru, village that at that time held the national record of natality.  We cannot oversee the help of some personalities in the board of the county, such as Mihai Marina and Leon Hogiu, from within the County Museum, such as Gheorghe Marinescu, Mircea Prahase, Lazăr Ureche, Florica Pop, Corneliu Botoş, Nicolae Gălăţean, Marioara Murărescu, the late Mihai Martin, Cornel Cotuţiu, Ion Ilieş, Ştefan Mircea, and the construction team lead by Viorel Olar, and many others.  

Significant is that the museum successively rose on the spot in the heart of the village, piece of land that was given to Rebreanu the moment he received the title of Honorary Citizen of the village Maieru, on January 5th 1927. 

This is the writer’s confession concerning this moment of his life:

“What was the moment when you felt most content?”“When the village Maieru, where I grew up, sent me a decision of the Village Council, appointing me Honorary Citizen of the Village and awarding me a piece of land to build a house.”

So, starting with November 27th 1985, the museum functions in its own building. It has 9 spacey rooms, each and every one of them containing well calculated themes, marking moments and events -sometimes dreadful - of village history, from the oldest times up to the present.

Room I: “Maieru in historical records” presents the oldest habitation proofs, the archaeological ones, the history of the citadel in Anies, an iron box bearing the inscription “1383”, used more likely in the citadel, then the first document preserved (1440) containing the name Maieru, then, as a marginal prolongation of the old citadel Rodna, Maieru was “a suburb” of the legendary Rodna, a corner of the Citadel from Anies, containing pieces discovered by the students in the archeology group of the museum. There are exposed here weapons of the former vigilantes in the time of the Border Regiment (1762 - 1851). A special place is given to the proofs of the devastating invasions of the Mongols and Tatars in the years 1241 and 1717. The tragic episode of the little girl Dafina Balotă, etc. 

Room II, theme: “Old and ancient occupations” - ethnography on the following structure: agriculture (wooden plough and harrow), milling, hunting (daggers and traps for bears, wolfs, foxes, hogs, stags, etc) The best represented are: shepherding, pottering, bee culture with objects centuries old.  The majority of these objects were gathered by students of different generations, most of them part of the group “Museum’s friends”, group well known in the county and in the country.

Room III “Newer occupations”     Stone carving, mining, log driving on the Somes, axing, strapping, local firefighting, etc, an exhibition about the most famous personalities of the region and their accomplishments, old documents of the local culture that complete the image of the local spirituality. The traditions of the village, customs culminating with the unequalled sing-song of the “Corn crown”, a rich local cottage industry (wood -carving, stitching) proves, on the one hand, the folk technical intelligence and the artistic sense and on the other hand the proverbial industry of the locals.

Room IV, first floor, “Dreams’ nest” - still presenting local ethnography, master craft of the women and men.  The five exhibitions: “Heroine mothers”, “The Guest Room of the House”, old traditional costumes, the dowry chest of the bride to be, occupations and house industry, old time cooking, etc, complete the image of the village with deep old roots that remained the origins of unequalled pieces of work Rebreanu’s, as Liviu Rebreanu himself, confesses: From Târlişua we moved to Maieru. This is the village of my childhood. It is a mountain village, very beautiful indeed, with very wise and strong-built men. From this village I took over all the rustic characters in the literature I have written. To some of them I added a hand, to others I cut out a leg, I made some of them be more passionate, I made others think over, and mo matter I place them in my books, they were all taken from the village Maieru”.

Room V: A bicentennial school and local culture. Just like passing under a silver bow, the visitor enters the realm of the words of the same spiritual master: “In the building of this school, so many years ago, I went through the ground school, having my father as teacher”. An exhibition: old and new books written by authors from Maieru, Romanian spelling books (some of them from more than a century ago), clay tablets with their correspondent stone stalks, faces of teachers and other distinguished local scholars, gathered together in “Liviu Rebreanu Cultural Society” (1927 - 1935), the collection of old Romanian calendars, the exhibition “The Poet Iustin Iliesiu (1900 - 1976) the minstrel of Transylvanian bleedings” , re-foundation of “Liviu Rebreanu Cultural Society” (1972 - 1987). Still in this room the partnership between the French community of Nort sur Erdre and Maieru, participation of the folklore ensemble “Crown of Maieru” at international folklore festivals in Zakopane and Ganat, the trophies they obtained, among which “The golden Violet” (Zakopane, Poland).

To notice is how we can find the flag in everything: in objects, in stitches, in fabrics, in symbols, in the jackets of the brides, in the dowry boxes of the young girls, in the table cloths, in the towels, in glass painted icons, etc. The inhabitant of Maieru kept by his/her side “the flag of the country even when the foreign oppression was hard to endure by the Romanians....”

One of the most valuable acquisitions of the museum is a library containing more than 6000 volumes, all of them received as donation. Main donors were the family of the writer, the poet Iustin Iliesiu and the family of the professor Vranau Dumitru and Silvia. The latter made a donation of 2418 books.

Room VI: bearing the name “Rebreanu the creator”

Among the numerous objects gathered in years, there are photographs, and written confessions of the writer that helped putting together his life. Rebreanu has been living again in the Dreams’ Nest, actually, three periods of his existence: his childhood between 1888 - 1898, the ground school, after that he moves with his parents to Prislop, then the more and more seldom coming backs to the “noon” of his creation force between 1917 - 1938, when the former school-boy finds again his “nest” and finally, the rising to universality by means of his writing translated in 40 languages.Following this circuit of the rooms of the museum, the visitor walks on an initiation path starting at the millennium old roots of the village and continuing to its spiritual crown in which the first shining is given by the reach of this genius of light which is Rebreanu for Romanian and universal literature.

To his whole, this museum re-creates the rustic atmosphere where the great novelist spent his childhood and part of his adult life. Being asked in 1933 by Ioan Massoff which was the most beautiful time of his life, Rebreanu, thinking of playing and bathing in Arini, answers indubitably: “Childhood, as during this interlude, all I did was play and I used to see everything bright”. Maybe this epoch, infected me with my ridiculous optimism that makes me see only good men around me”.

This is the only key to interpret the nostalgia in his writing from 1919 in the short-story “Dreams’ Nest”, when, after a long absence, he found his beloved village again: “After thirty years of vain turmoil, there was I, returning there where I started in the big bright world. I had been looking for happiness all around the world, and I couldn’t find it. Neither in the maddening murmur of the cities, nor in the love of my fellow humans, was not even in my heart....The memory was embracing me shivering, unveiling moments that have lived once in shiny garments. It was luring me into a forgotten world, where life is a dream and the soul doesn’t know pain”.

In the memories of old men, the portrait of the writer is often re-composed in numerous hypostasis, caught, actually in exposed photographs: majestic man, tall, handsome, possessing a shrouding North-Carpathian beauty, grizzled before age, with a clean bluish glance. A man, all winsomely........And yet, nobody described his as accurately as Toader Avram, one of the signer of the document by which there was awarded the honorary citizenship of the village Maieru to the novelist.  The description made by this peasant, remains not only a linguistic standard of the language spoken in the Dreams’ Nest, but also a model of expressiveness and keen observation as Serban Cioculescu, inferred on an occasion.These are the words of Toader Avram:

“With me, he spent a long time, talking. He says to me that village like this, cannot be found, nowhere in the big broad world. He was a fine man, with sheep-white hair; we talked about everything, he asked me about my grief. He liked to sing horas, these kind that we sing here. We was not much of a talkative; he more likely liked to listen to my stories or to the others’. When it seemed to him that something might like him, he prayed: “Do please say again!”. He knew all the ravines and valleys around here, on their names, maybe ever since he was a small child, as this is the place where he came to the world, with us and with our sorrows.......He mostly loved the summer along the Somes, there in the Arini, as our elders used to call the place of the old mill of Partinoiu, where, on Sundays, we have the dance.  On a Sunday morning, in the summer, it seems to me, to have seen him, in front of me. I lurked as he kept on looking, for a while, with his hands behind his back, at the wheels of the mill and at the old, round rotten willow, that keeps on standing there...... And he looked and kept looking, as it seemed to me, as if he suddenly starts missing something. Then he strolls for a while, with Dumitru, the tutor, with Dariu Pop and with Vichente, the notary, mates of him ever since they were as small as lambs.......He has well made, better made than his old man, a handsome man, straight as a flag. He used to look a lot at our mate-villagers! While I was stag, I read some of the books made by him; he was the most educated man. And then, he also got a special talent in really feeling the soul and longing of the ploughman. We did hear that he got to be really famous with the histories of Boroiu, with Ion, with all of them. And then, the community decided to award hem the greatest honor and to congratulate him and to give him, right in the middle of the village, a piece of land, to build him a house, here, among us. I used to be, at that time, the cashier of the village, and I know these thing well, because I signed then....”.

Here, there thrones a splendid portrait of the novelist at the age of 35, painted in oil by the painter Ileana Antonu, then the coffee table made of fir, received from the priest Cioarba, on which he travailed “Ciuleandra” and “Rascoala”, the gas lamp of the travailed nights, other personal objects, most of them donated by his wife, Fanny, and his daughter Puia Florica, all of them enframed by a long column of texts alternating with illuminating photographs, original unique documents, then the exhibition “Friends and  hosts in Maieru”, the hive received by the writer as school prise, as well as the entire opera in original and in several translations, the portrait of Emil, the brother of the writer who was sentenced to gallows.

Starting with the fir table, then the gas lamp of the unslept nights, the whistles made of rifle barrel, the coffee machine and the tobacco box along with other metaphor objects, then the bust of the writer in front of the edifice, created by the sculptor Constantin Popovici and the bust in the inner yard made by the sculptor Ioan Deac from Bistrita, both, donated, along with each and every exponent in the guided tour, especially when the guidance is made by students, shine a light on details, on facettes of the humanity of the villagers and, of course on the personality of a writer who saw the light of day in the hot heart of the peasants’ life.

Room VII We have a multifunctional amphitheater with 120 sitting places. Here, the visitor receives information about the numerous implications of the museum in the cultural life of the village, and not only. We have to remind that here one can find a good part of the museum’s library, the headquarters of the local Astra, the redaction of the magazine “Dreams’ Nest”, which is, in fact, an emanation of the museum. 

Besides the amphitheater the museum disposes of two more spaces for depositing.

The guide of the museum thanks on this occasion to those leaders of the village and of the county, to those men and women, students and children who had their contribution in rising and guarding this rural institution that does not belong just to Maieru, for a long time.  But first of all, I’d like to pay my gratitude to my exemplary wife, Doina Ursa, class teacher of our sons, Liviu and Ovidiu, teachers too, who stood by my side every time I encountered problems.


Instead of conclusions, we close our guidance with two documents of great importance. First of all, the words of Ms. Fanny Rebreanu, the wife of the great writer: “Maieru was the clear morning of a 58 years stormy life! Men, land, happenings from here were the distanced prelude of an immortal work, the only one in this world that gathered the first flowers, the first impressions that left unerasable marks in the memory”. Then, a letter written as a poem, written by Ion Delamargina, 50 years ago, on the occasion of varnishing the memorial exhibition “Liviu Rebreanu” at the school in Maieru, on November 27th 1957.  It was published in the volume “Homage to Rebreanu” by Sever Ursa and Mihai I Vlad, Ed. Macarie, Targoviste, 1994.  Macarie, Târgovişte, 1994.

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