During the reign of Alexandru Ioan Cuza (1859-1866), Dimitrie Papazoglu founded the first private museum in Bucharest, within his own residence of 151st Văcăreşti street. He gathered a large number of items, making one of the richest antiques collections in Wallachia, rival to the ones of Mihalache Ghica or general Nicolae Mavros. In a time when the museum as institution was lacking in the Romanian Principalities, the collections of major Papazoglu fulfilled not only a national educational deficiency, but assumed the role of a veritable museum on the western model. Papazoglu even try to systematize his collections, creating 20 categories, according to the nature of the items.
All his efforts were run by ideals, and first of these was the one of cultivating the patriotic spirit of his fellow Romanians. Another ideal was the establishment and protection of the national heritage. The existence of the Papazoglu museum is one of the keystones in the inception of the cultural heritage legislation in Romania. In 1864 (after the appropriation by the state of the monasteries’ properties), major Papazoglu initiated a law project for the safeguarding of the “antiquities” found all over the Romanian territory, which were endangered. His initiative lacked the support of the government and folded.
The program promoted by Dimitrie Papazoglu in the middle of 19th century reflects a centralizing way of thinking, aligned with the political tendencies of the moment. In fact every significant find, instead of remaining under the management of the local authorities, was taken to Bucharest, the vast majority being registered in the patrimony of the National Museum Naţional. Such pleas, without minimizing the right to private property, proposed a concept “national property”, accessible to the whole nation. This conception legitimates the rights and the pretensions of the modern society to manage its own history.