Recovering stories from the past for a sustainable future: a HORIZON EUROPE research project coordinated by Babe?-Bolyai University (BBU) and implemented in 12 countries

Since January 2024, the Mosan Medieval Heritage House has been participating in a Horizon Europe research project set up and coordinated by the Babes-Bolyai University of Cluj (Romania). The project RESTORY – Recovering Past Stories for the Future: A Synergistic Approach to Textual and Oral Heritage of Small Communities will launch at the beginning of 2024, bringing together 20 partners – universities, public institutions, companies, and NGOs – from 12 European countries. RESTORY is the first Research and Innovation project on cultural heritage won by an academic institution in Romania, as well as the first investigation of this type coordinated by BBU within the HORIZON EUROPE funding programme.
The core of the project consists of a series of case studies inspired by the historical experience of the Transylvanian Saxons, who built prosperous settlements in the Middle Ages on the territory of present-day Romania, some still admired as part of the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. This model of successful practices in the sustainable management of material and human resources has placed a special emphasis on local schooling, on intuitive circular economy processes and on affective communication strategies in relation to inhabited places.
These early-established societal traditions that evolved alongside the Romanians, Hungarians, and Roma, dwellers of the same shared communities, create a remarkable symbolic vocabulary of regional cultural heritage and territorial identity. Their stories are preserved in contemporary accounts and community records, many to be found in poorly explored archives and libraries. The investigation will initially target an urban context, Sighi?oara (Mure? county), and a rural one, Jelna (Bistri?a-N?s?ud county). Other settlements with a similar historical profile, such as Sebe? (Alba county), or villages like Brateiu, Buzd (both in Sibiu county) or Cincu (Bra?ov county) will deepen the area of exploration during the course of the project.
Subsequently, ten parallel research actions will be undertaken in Estonia, Finland, France, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, and Ukraine, all aiming to validate the relevance and general soundness of the medieval, modern, and recent traditions from Transylvania, strategies developed in pursuit of a better management of limited resources, especially over extended periods of crisis.
“The focal point of the case studies will be the coherent collective behaviour of responsibly managed communities, illustrating the transformative nature of cultural messages, an essential aspect highlighted precisely through recycling practices”, points out RESTORY’s project leader, PhD. Habil. Adinel C. Dinc?, Associate Professor at the Department of Medieval, Premodern, and Art History of the Faculty of History and Philosophy, BBU.
This research endeavour to recover resource-maximizing solutions, intuitively implemented by small communities over a long period of time, will ultimately enable the knowledge transfer from academia to local memory institutions such as museums, archives, or libraries, actively and emotionally involving citizens in the sustainable development of the traditional heritage.
Thus, RESTORY targets both institutional users and visitors of cultural sites by including them in consultancy activities with reference to the management of historical artefacts, as well as through educational campaigns or training sessions intended to generate new skills and jobs in the cultural heritage economy; another important aspect pertains to assisting GLAM institutions in implementing open access policies and accessing funding.
This is how the MPMM, as a museum and expert in the promotion and dissemination of knowledge to the public, participates in this research and benefits, at the same time, from all these new skills acquired abroad.
The RESTORY consortium brings together 20 organizations from 12 countries:

1. Babe?-Bolyai University, România
2. Technical University of Cluj-Napoca, România
3. Sighi?oara City Hall, România
4. Civitas Foundation for Civil Society, Cluj-Napoca, România
5. C.School for Creative Acts, România
6. 23 Film Studio & Media, România
7. Università degli Studi di Roma „La Sapienza”, Italy
8. Università degli Studi di Cagliari, Italy
9. Consorzio Materahub Industrie Culturali e Creative, Italy
10. Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium
11. Maison du Patrimoine Médiéval Mosan, Belgium
12. Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France
13. Háskóli Íslands, Iceland
14. Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal
15. Helsingin Yliopisto, Finland
16. Tartu Ülikool, Estonia
17. Atlantic Technological University, Ireland
18. Uniwersytet Im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu, Poland
19. Asset Technology, Greece
20. Bukovinian State Medical University, Ukraine