In the Huniade Square, No 1, in Timisoara, visitors can find one of the best and most representative museums in the region - and one of the most interesting in Romania - the Banat Museum, and old and highly appreciated cultural institution. Due to it's history, the richness and variety of it's collections and last but not least the quality of the team of specialists, the Banat Museum is a place to be visited on every occasion. It is also a large place, with several distinct sections : the history section, natural history, art, ethnography and the village history section.
It's history begins in 1872, when Sigismund Ormos founded the "Banat Museum Association", wanting to found a new museum. The initial, small collections were first presented in July 1872, mainly history and natural history exhibits, under the name still used today. Most of the exhibits were donations, few being bought especially for the future museum. Also, the museum will publish, in 1875 - 1917, the "Historical and Archaelogical Bulletin", a magasine that over time launched a great number of researchers and important studies. Also, the same Ormos had the inspired idea of buying several works of art, for the art section of the museum, this idea and acquisitions being carried on after World War One by the next director of the museum, Ioachim Miloia. In 1940 - 1944 the museum was ran by the painter Aurel Ciupe, who managed to enrich the museum's collections to a large degree. The next director, Marius Moga, an archaeologist, continued this trend.
At first, the museum was hosted inside some rooms of the Wellaner House in Timisoara, on Sonovics Street, a place which remained the museum's building until the interwar period. The official opening of the Banat Museum took place in 1877, and in a short time the museum proved to be popular. After a period of restorations of the building, in 1888 the building of the Museum's Palace (nowadays the Library of the Romanian Academy in Timisoara) was finally ready. Although it was a small place, the museum officially reopened in 1889. In the last years of the 19th century the Banat Museum already had several sections : archaeology, ancient history, art, natural science, as well as a library and an impressive archive. Another section, dedicated to decorative arts, was opened in 1892.
Over the interwar years the main problem was the small place that the museum had at it's disposal, which forced the curators to keep many important exhibits in it's storage rooms instead of the halls. Despite these difficulties the number and variety of the collections kept increasing and on several occasions the Banat Museum was present abroad, for exhibitions organised at foreign museums. The worst time in it's history was during the Second World War, when most of the collections were taken away, to be protected from the bombings. Yet, many of them were looted or destroyed by Soviet forces, many treasures being lost forever.
It was in 1948 that the Banat Museum was moved to a much better space, today's headquarters, and over the next few decades it's collections continued to grow, some of the acquisitions being special and highly valuable. By the beginning of 2006, after a long and interesting history, the Banat Museum was regarded by specialists and researchers as one of the most important museum of Romania. The art section also became an independent museum, the "Art Museum of Timisoara". Nowadays, the Banat Museum has four distinct sections : history, archaeology, natural science and the laboratory for restoration and preservation of exhibits.