Comori și mărturii ale prețuirii. Minerale. Artefacte de metale prețioase și pietre semiprețioase. Colecția Emil Constantinescu


European Night of Museums 2019

Treasures and testimonies of appreciation. Minerals. Precious metal and semi-precious stone artefacts.

The Emil Constantinescu Collection


Expoziția aniversară Comori și mărturii ale prețuirii. Minerale. Artefacte de metale prețioase și pietre semiprețioase. Colecția Emil Constantinescu

Organized by the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization in partnership with the National Museum of Geology and the Romanian Geological Institute, the „Treasures and testimonies of appreciation. Minerals. Artefacts from precious metals and semi-precious stones. The Emil Constantinescu Collection” exhibition represents the premiere occasion on which over one thousand individual items from the personal collection of Emil Constantinescu have been made accessible to the general public in a museal setting. The items – mineral collections, geological samples, decorative objects made from precious metals and semi-precious stones, diplomas, medals, rare volumes, knightly Orders, other awards and decorations – stand as the tangible testimonies of the appreciation shown to Mr Constantinescu over the course of his 55 years of academic career and 80 years of life.

olecția personală a președintelui Emil Constantinescu – minerale, eșantioane geologice, obiecte decorative din metale prețioase și din pietre semiprețioase

The vernissage of the exhibition was held on the 17th of May at the National Museum of Geology, in the presence of Mr Emil Constantinescu, of Academician Nicolae Anastasiu, of Mrs. Delia Dumitraș, General Director of the National Museum of Geology, and of Mr. Ștefan Marincea, General Director of the Romanian Geological Institute. With distinct emotion and respect, President Constantinescu’s collaborators evoked his scientific and didactic activity, underlining his reluctance to ever abandon his academic preoccupations, not even during his term as President of Romania.

Indeed, the countless items that comprise the exhibition, many of which originated from the far corners of the world and were offered to President Constantinescu by important heads of state, unveil the fortunate union between geology and cultural diplomacy, between artistic refinement and the rigours of protocol, between the material and the symbolic dimensions that have infused Professor Constantinescu’s lifelong work.

Academician Nicolae Anastasiu


“For those of you that will cross the threshold of this exhibition, you shall be taken on a fascinating journey through history: a sojourn through a vivid, living history whose accent falls equally on value and on beauty. This collection comprises a great many rare items, and brings out the preoccupations, the breakthroughs and the sheer importance of national premieres that were published in scientific journals of broad circulation; and it paints a novel profile of Professor Emil Constantinescu: that of a consummate collector.”

Academician Nicolae Anastasiu


In the first hall of the exhibition, the minerals, crystals and stone formations – present both in cut and uncut forms, and sourced from both Romania and elsewhere – excite the imagination and pique our curiosity, due to their age and diverse forms of representation. The “crown jewel” of the systematic mineral collection that greets the visitor is a large globe, a gift from the King of Thailand, on which the physical representation of each individual state is etched from a different kind of mineral. This, alongside the other silent pieces in the display, tell the ancient story of time’s passing, transforming everything under the sun through physical processes lasting many millions of years.


Emil Constantinescu

“For someone who has not yet had the opportunity of coming to know geology, or at least that of meeting geologists, it might be difficult to understand just how happy this profession can make one. And, I daresay, how wise, indeed; as it is the only discipline, the only science that, at any given time, operates on the breath-taking scale of hundreds of millions of years, from the very formation of the Earth to the present day, and works with colossal tectonic stretches. For this reason, I believe a geological mindset is essential to us all - as I have pointed out over the course of a trilogy co-authored with Academician Nicolae Anastasiu. Perhaps, through visiting the exhibition, our guests might consider the importance of developing such a mindset.”

Emil Constantinescu


Further afield, time offers another perspective on life, and on history: that of short moments, of a few hours or days, seemingly frozen in time: official visits to various states, anniversary reunions, award ceremonies, all marked by refined gifts and impressive decorative objects crafted from precious metals and semi-precious stones, a number of them offered in appreciation to President Constantinescu by great leaders of the world: an etched topaz crystal hailing from the Ural Mountains, set in a 1960k gold brace, from the President of Russia, Boris Yeltsin; a Japanese samurai helmet received from Emperor Akihito of Japan; a clock made of gold and semi-precious stones gifted by the Emir of Qatar; a platter carved from the marble of the Taj Mahal, with malachite and semi-precious stone insertions, or various gold and silver objects. In this display, the solid-gold Qatari Order of Independence at the rank of Collar and the Brazilian Palmas Academicas Order, also at the rank of Collar take pride of place. The religious paintings adorning the sides, testimonies of Pope John Paul II’s visit to Romania and of the appreciation of Mother Theresa, complete the sacred atmosphere and give the viewer the impression of Noli me tangere.


The next room of the exhibition is even more overwhelming, by virtue of the sheer quality and quantity of the pieces on display. It houses a selection of the Doctor Honoris Causa distinctions, their associated robes and the countless medals received from the great universities of the world and other international institutions, in appreciation of the scientific and diplomatic activity undertaken by President Emil Constantinescu. Artefacts from Duke University, Harvard, the French Academy, universities in Thailand, Brazil, China, institutions and universities in France, Italy, Greece and other European countries, trophies from the Berlin Academy and the Pro-Democracy Centre in Washington crowd the shelves of the many displays.


The final room of the temporary exhibition houses a reconstruction of the desk of the President of Romania between 1996 and 2000, offering the grand impression of time having frozen in place: the collection of still clocks, the map of the world laden with colourful pins marking „conquered” lands, rare books sure to delight bibliophiles, the hardwood bookcase hiding a Montaigne or a Marcus Aurelius received from the French president Jacques Chirac, sit alongside old French geology manuals and a table laden with objects and desk items received from his American counterpart, William J. Clinton…


Ștefan Marincea Directorul Institutului Geologic Român

„What impressed me most is that – as those who will cross its threshold will be able to attest to – this exhibition provides indomitable proof of a life richly lived. Having perused the artefacts on display, I am honoured to have been able to also find evidence of our personal collaboration, of the intersection between our professional careers. And, as I was walking down this memory road through the history of professor Constantinescu’s career, a quote from Abraham Lincoln came, unbidden, to mind: saying that “it’s not the years in our lives that matter, but rather the life in our years”. How very true, indeed!”

Ștefan Marincea

Director of the National Geological Institute


Seemingly in defiance of time itself, over twenty brevets, knightly orders and decorations bestowed by kings, queens and heads of state from across the world are displayed in quiet rows to the side. Some artefacts are true treasures in their own right: a gilded emerald elephant with diamond eyes and a diamond cross, representing the Order of the Elephant to the rank of Knight, bestowed by the King of Denmark; the St Michael and St George Order, received from the Queen of England; The Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, to the ranks of Collar and Grand Cross; The French Foreign Legion, to the rank of Grand Cross; The Order of the White Rose of Finland  to the rank of Grand Collar; The National Order of the Southern Cross to the rank of Grand Collar, from Brazil; the Order of the Christ the Redeemer to the rank of Grand Cross, from Greece…

Brevete, ordine și decorații acordate de regi, regine și de șefii de stat din toată lumea


To one side, nestled in a corner, lies a chessboard received from the Vatican, fashioned from aragonite, demonstrating to the visitor that the eternal game being played out on the world’s stage, on which crowned heads, bishops, knights, rooks and pawns all jostle against each other, is not dominated by chance; but, rather, is won, move after move, by the player who boasts the greatest mental fortitude.


Delia Dumitraș Directorul Muzeului Național de Geologie


This unusual exhibition, featuring items of inestimable value obtained over the course of the lengthy and successful career of one of our institutions’ greatest friends, is itself a testimony to the natural reciprocity of human kindness exhibited by professor Constantinescu through the testaments of consideration and appreciation he magnanimously offered to all those that have ever crossed his door.”

Delia Dumitraș

Director of the National Museum of Geology


For the Night of Museums, organized in Bucharest, throughout the country and across Europe on the 18th of May 2019, the exhibition successfully drew in a significant number of visitors, over 1000 in a single evening. It will remain open to the public at the National Museum of Geology (2 Pavel Dimitreevici Kiseleff Boulevard) in Bucharest until June 30th 2019, daily, between 10am and 6pm.


Treasures and testimonies of appreciation. Minerals. Precious metal and semi-precious stone artefacts.

The Emil Constantinescu Collection


“During the 1970s and ‘80s I was busy doing fieldwork alongside Professor Constantinescu. It quickly became apparent that, nearly on every outing, he would gravitate towards the peasant houses, towards the special villages, towards authenticity, towards beauty and towards value. Later on, the 1990s offered him countless opportunities to travel, to observe, to seek out and to complete his growing collection of memorabilia. The artefacts that came to be included in his personal collection emanate a distinct beauty, are proof of a certain unimpeachable value, but also represent an eminent recognition of Professor Constantinescu’s life’s work, received as they were from certifiable role models, various heads of state, a number of rectors of institutions from across the world… Such objects, such testimonies of appreciation, will you be able to find herein.”

Academician Nicolae Anastasiu