National Museum of Contemporary Art – Interview with Călin Dan, general manager

You came back to Romania after 20 years in Amsterdam and in 2014 you won the management of the only Romanian state institution of contemporary art – the National Museum of Contemporary Art (MNAC). In your view as artist and critic, how much freedom of expression do contemporary artists have 26 years after the Revolution? 

Freedom of expression is a principle guaranteed by the state. However, it is limited by economical factors and various groups of interests, either professional or political. The critic and the artist may say whatever they want, but the sonority will be controlled by those who control the means of communication and dissemination. Beyond individual management (social media), no one can say that they don’t have free access to media channels. 

This is with regards to the marketing side of ideas. Concerning the particular speech, meaning the artistic production, it is subjected to certain market rules that are pretty tight, to the extent to which the state doesn’t get significantly involved in supporting independent production nor do they have a legislative and economical framework to encourage small and medium sized display spaces. 

What are the main directions of MNAC for the next 2 years? 

In the near future, MNAC would like to undertake a complex process of self-analysis, with the help of foreign specialists; this analysis aims to produce new positioning strategies on the local and international scene. In addition to this, we want to get beyond the bizarre situation that kept the collection completely blocked for the last nine years. We also desire to extend the concept of visual culture on behalf of which our institution is functioning by including new program directions that are complementary to the existent ones. 

Which were the challenges that you have encountered at the artistic and management level while running the MNAC? 

There were multiple challenges – from having to recreate the institutional structure to distributing responsibilities depending on the abilities of each employee, to setting up a curatorial program with a high degree of predictability, to reconstructing the inventories of mobile patrimony and redesigning the warehouse, to looking for new sustainable solutions to rehabilitate the three locations of MNAC.