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When, in 1969, Romania and the United States signed an accord to open a Romanian Library in New York and an American Library in Bucharest, it was a big deal indeed. In the complicated Cold War circumstances, the decision created a unique institution to manage the Romanian-U.S. cultural relations, unprecedented even among other countries caught in the Soviet orbit, and kicked off 55 years of Romanian professional cultural diplomacy in the United States.

In the following decades, with ups and downs and no matter the name – Library, Center or Institute – this nexus of transatlantic cultural relations has strived to make Romanian culture&arts a permanent presence in New York and throughout America.

Join us in remembering more than half a century of Romanian institutional cultural diplomacy in the United States with a special anniversary program placed under the symbolic patronage of Professor Dan Grigorescu (1931-2008), the founding director of the Romanian Library in New York. The 55th jubilee of the Library/ Center/ Institute will be marked by the unveiling of a specially created mural, adorning our entrance hall, by Romanian visual artist Radu Pandele. Keynote addresses, a talk, and a documentary exhibition (produced with the support of the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs` Diplomatic Archives) will provide a historical overview of these fascinating decades.

The event will be followed by a wine reception.

A palpable result of the historic rapprochement between Romania and the United States at the peak of the Cold War, The Romanian Library of New York was established in 1969 and began operating in full in 1971, as the counterpart of the American Library in Bucharest, which opened at about the same time. The newly created institution was the first official vector of cultural diplomacy of Romania in America (and one of the oldest in the world) and has remained so ever since. Despite its name, the Romanian Library performed all the principal functions of a cultural center tasked with strengthening the transatlantic cultural relations: providing information about Romanian culture&arts, organizing conferences&roundtables, opening exhibitions, presenting books and publications, setting up screenings of feature films and documentaries, offering concerts and theatrical events, etc. In fact, the various names – Romanian Library, Romanian Cultural Center (since 1991) and Romanian Cultural Institute (since 2003) – have covered the same institutional reality in terms of general purpose, basic approaches, and specific events. The 55 th anniversary of the establishment of the Library is in effect a celebration of more than five decades of institutional cultural diplomacy in New York and the United States and of continuous transformation, which its cohorts of triumphs, blows and reinventions.

Drawing on the best practices of this heritage, the Romanian Cultural Institute of today brings the multi- faceted tradition of Romanian cultural diplomacy in America to a new level of ambition and range. At once a curator, promoter, producer of artistic and cultural events, resource center and learning hub, the Institute works in cooperation with the Romanian diplomatic missions in the United States and numerous partners here and at home to showcase the diversity and vibrancy of Romanian artistic, cultural and academic scene and to galvanize the Romanian-American cultural relations. Although based in New York City, the Institute aspires to a Pan-American presence as our projects cover the whole of the United States and major cultural centers in Canada. It also acts as the main artistic agency for Romanian artists in the United States and beyond. A networking specialist, it works to establish thriving, ever-expanding partnerships among Romanian and American cultural organizations, public or independent.

The Institute is placed under the common heading of The Romanian Cultural Institute (the Bucharest HQ) and Romania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and is part of the 18-strong network of similar organizations scattered on four continents. The Institute has been a member of the New York cluster of EUNIC (European Union National Institutes for Culture) since 2007 and held the Presidency of EUNIC New York twice, in 2010/11 and 2020/21.

ALEXANDRU GRIGORESCU is a professor at Loyola University Chicago and director at Center for Research on International Affairs. His research and teaching focus on international relations. He has taught courses on international organization, globalization, international relations theory, the UN system, and international human rights. His research on international organizations and their impact on domestic politics has been published in journals such as Ethics & International Affairs, Global Governance, International Politics, International Studies Perspectives, International Studies Quarterly, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Review of International Organizations, and World Politics. He is the author of Democratic Intergovernmental Organizations? Normative Pressures and Decision-Making Rules (2015) Cambridge University Press, The Ebb and Flow of Global Governance: Intergovernmentalism vs. Nongovernmentalism in World Politics (2020), Cambridge University Press, Restraining Power through Institutions: A Unifying Theme for Domestic and International Politics (2023), Oxford University Press, and together with Claudio Katz, Lockean Liberalism in International Relations (2024), Cambridge University Press.

Professor Dan Grigorescu and the 55 years history of the Romanian Library/Center/Institute in New York, Talk by Prof. Alexandru Grigorescu


PHOTO GALLERY by Johnny Vacar & Bruce Bybee | RCI New York, Friday, June 28, 2024

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