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Romanian Kitsch Museum opens in Bucharest

Associated Press logo Associated Press 5/5/2017 By ALISON MUTLER, Associated Press
In this Thursday, May 4, 2017, photo mannequin depicting Dracula is backdropped by a poster attempting to differentiate Bram Stoker's character from Romanian medieval ruler Vlad the Impaler, seen at left, at the newly opened Bucharest Kitsch Museum, in Bucharest, Romania. The Kitsch Museum opens for visitors on Friday, May 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda) © The Associated Press In this Thursday, May 4, 2017, photo mannequin depicting Dracula is backdropped by a poster attempting to differentiate Bram Stoker's character from Romanian medieval ruler Vlad the Impaler, seen at left, at the newly opened Bucharest Kitsch Museum, in Bucharest, Romania. The Kitsch Museum opens for visitors on Friday, May 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — A museum showcasing Romanian kitsch items, ranging from a life-size Dracula to communist-era glass fish, opened in the country's capital on Friday.

In this Thursday, May 4, 2017, photo a replica of Michelangelo's world-famous statue of David wearing a gaudy gilt necklace with a large US dollar ($) pendant, stands at the entrance to the newly opened Bucharest Kitsch Museum, in Bucharest, Romania. The Kitsch Museum opens for visitors on Friday, May 5, 2017 .(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda) © The Associated Press In this Thursday, May 4, 2017, photo a replica of Michelangelo's world-famous statue of David wearing a gaudy gilt necklace with a large US dollar ($) pendant, stands at the entrance to the newly opened Bucharest Kitsch Museum, in Bucharest, Romania. The Kitsch Museum opens for visitors on Friday, May 5, 2017 .(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

The 215 exhibits also include a flat-screen television with flickering flames imitating an open fireplace, a cushion that looks like a one-euro coin, neon-lit Christian crosses, and a reclining naked man whose body is covered with 50 lei notes (each worth about $12).

In this Thursday, May 4, 2017, photo a plaster statue is backdropped by an interpretation of the European Union flag at the newly opened Bucharest Kitsch Museum, in Bucharest, Romania. The Kitsch Museum opens for visitors on Friday, May 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda) © The Associated Press In this Thursday, May 4, 2017, photo a plaster statue is backdropped by an interpretation of the European Union flag at the newly opened Bucharest Kitsch Museum, in Bucharest, Romania. The Kitsch Museum opens for visitors on Friday, May 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

The first thing you see upon entering the museum is a copy of Michelangelo's world-famous statue of David. But that's the only reference to classical art in this space devoted to kitsch.

In this Thursday, May 4, 2017, a journalist looks arrives for a preview visit at the the newly opened Bucharest Kitsch Museum, in Bucharest, Romania. The Kitsch Museum opens for visitors on Friday, May 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda) © The Associated Press In this Thursday, May 4, 2017, a journalist looks arrives for a preview visit at the the newly opened Bucharest Kitsch Museum, in Bucharest, Romania. The Kitsch Museum opens for visitors on Friday, May 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

The statue, a miniature copy of the 16th-century century sculpture, wears a gaudy gilt necklace with a large U.S. dollar pendant and stands on a sequined cloth, setting the tone for visitors to the Romanian Kitsch Museum.

In this Thursday, May 4, 2017, copies of the now-defunct Dracula weekly one showing a front page headline that reads "Extraterrestrials steal electricity." at the newly opened Bucharest Kitsch Museum, in Bucharest, Romania. The Kitsch Museum opens for visitors on Friday, May 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda) © The Associated Press In this Thursday, May 4, 2017, copies of the now-defunct Dracula weekly one showing a front page headline that reads "Extraterrestrials steal electricity." at the newly opened Bucharest Kitsch Museum, in Bucharest, Romania. The Kitsch Museum opens for visitors on Friday, May 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Some objects are Romanian retro such as glass fish that adorned TV sets in the communist era and brightly colored crocheted blankets. Others have a more universal appeal: The "Pitzipoanca" is a glam woman dressed in fishnets, a neon dress and a fake Versace baseball cap. Her male equivalent, the "Cocalar," shows off in a fur waistcoat, sunglasses, diamante watch and track trousers.

In this Thursday, May 4, 2017, photo a man takes pictures in the religion kitsch section of the newly opened Bucharest Kitsch Museum, in Bucharest, Romania. The Kitsch Museum opens for visitors on Friday, May 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda) © The Associated Press In this Thursday, May 4, 2017, photo a man takes pictures in the religion kitsch section of the newly opened Bucharest Kitsch Museum, in Bucharest, Romania. The Kitsch Museum opens for visitors on Friday, May 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

As well as kitsch local music, there's also fake news. The headline in a 2001 edition of the Dracula weekly is: "Extraterrestrials steal electric current."

In this Thursday, May 4, 2017, photo Communist era milk bottles are on display along with a metal fish at the newly opened Bucharest Kitsch Museum, in Bucharest, Romania. The Kitsch Museum opens for visitors on Friday, May 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda) © The Associated Press In this Thursday, May 4, 2017, photo Communist era milk bottles are on display along with a metal fish at the newly opened Bucharest Kitsch Museum, in Bucharest, Romania. The Kitsch Museum opens for visitors on Friday, May 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

The museum's first visitor, Sorin Balanescu, says that kitsch, which has become more prevalent since communism ended, is an eyesore in Bucharest.

In this Thursday, May 4, 2017, photo a quartz clock icon is on display in the religion kitsch section of the newly opened Bucharest Kitsch Museum, in Bucharest, Romania. The Kitsch Museum opens for visitors on Friday, May 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda) © The Associated Press In this Thursday, May 4, 2017, photo a quartz clock icon is on display in the religion kitsch section of the newly opened Bucharest Kitsch Museum, in Bucharest, Romania. The Kitsch Museum opens for visitors on Friday, May 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

"There is an invasion (of kitsch) that is so tiring and ugly," he said. "You can't see the city because of the billboards ... I don't know how we will get rid of it."

In this Thursday, May 4, 2017, photo a Communist education ministry poster depicting a traffic policeman is on display at the newly opened Bucharest Kitsch Museum, in Bucharest, Romania. The Kitsch Museum opens for visitors on Friday, May 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda) © The Associated Press In this Thursday, May 4, 2017, photo a Communist education ministry poster depicting a traffic policeman is on display at the newly opened Bucharest Kitsch Museum, in Bucharest, Romania. The Kitsch Museum opens for visitors on Friday, May 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Even the entrance fee is influenced by kitsch. Foreigners pay 30 lei ($7.23) to visit the museum located in the Old Town (Centru Vechi) tourist district, while Romanians pay 20 lei ($4.8). Owner Cristian Lica says Romanians get a reduction in "a show of solidarity because they are exposed daily to kitsch."

In this Thursday, May 4, 2017, a man walks by exhibits in the Gypsy kitsch section at the newly opened Bucharest Kitsch Museum, in Bucharest, Romania. The Kitsch Museum opens for visitors on Friday, May 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda) © The Associated Press In this Thursday, May 4, 2017, a man walks by exhibits in the Gypsy kitsch section at the newly opened Bucharest Kitsch Museum, in Bucharest, Romania. The Kitsch Museum opens for visitors on Friday, May 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Some exhibits may cause controversy and even offense.

In this Thursday, May 4, 2017, photo museum owner Cristian Lica poses at the newly opened Bucharest Kitsch Museum, in Bucharest, Romania. The Kitsch Museum opens for visitors on Friday, May 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda) © The Associated Press In this Thursday, May 4, 2017, photo museum owner Cristian Lica poses at the newly opened Bucharest Kitsch Museum, in Bucharest, Romania. The Kitsch Museum opens for visitors on Friday, May 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

A section on Roma, or Gypsies, regurgitates stereotypes. A pregnant Gypsy woman stands next to a model baby lying on the ground and a metal bucket full of sunflower seeds, the image of a poor Roma woman. In another corner, there are photos of ornate houses with turrets which are labeled "Gypsy Architecture," a style of house favored by some well-off Roma.

In this Thursday, May 4, 2017, photo a news photographer works inside the newly opened Bucharest Kitsch Museum, in Bucharest, Romania. The Kitsch Museum opens for visitors on Friday, May 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda) © The Associated Press In this Thursday, May 4, 2017, photo a news photographer works inside the newly opened Bucharest Kitsch Museum, in Bucharest, Romania. The Kitsch Museum opens for visitors on Friday, May 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Images of Orthodox clerics next to expensive cars prompt Lica to say: "Jesus Christ was spiritually rich, priests are materially rich." A news item relating how priests were suspended for blessing sex shops and brothels is also part of the exhibit.

Asked about racial stereotyping, Lica says that he is aware there may be negative reactions, but adds "I don't want to insult anyone's feelings."

He previously worked in advertising and has been collecting kitsch objects for 21 years and is fascinated by it, though he also deems it toxic and too prevalent.

"Kitsch is a form of expression. It's failed art," he said, sitting at a table with a bowl of plastic fruit on it. "Some of it is a cliche and repetitive like Mona Lisa copies. Some is creative kitsch."

Dressed in a T-shirt decorated with a sequined skull and white loafers with silver buckles, Lica's favorite item is a photo of Nicolae Ceausescu standing with a presidential scepter, and a telegram sent by artist Salvador Dali, showing the personality cult the Communist leader cultivated before he was overthrown and executed during the 1989 revolution.

Lica has visited 500 museums and was inspired by boutique museums dedicated to cocaine, cannabis, sex and torture.

The museum has different sections: contemporary kitsch, communist kitsch, Gypsy kitsch, Dracula kitsch and Orthodox Church kitsch.

Not everyone was taken by the idea of exhibiting kitsch. Communications consultant Catrinel Dumitru said Bucharest had other monuments and museums to offer tourists, saying Romanians were likely to be the first visitors.

"I wouldn't recommend this as the first place for foreigners," Dumitru said.

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