The mechanical and archaeological excavations in the cellar of the
present-day ethnographic museum prove the existence of a very old
wooden construction (the 13th-14th centuries), within which fragments
of collared ceramics ('Kragenrandkeramik), as well as relics of a stone
construction dating from approximately the 14th century were
discovered. The evidence refers to the buildings that exist no more
today, having been demolished at the latest in 1865, with the occasion of
erecting the present-day building by the Small Handicraftsmen's
The existing 'Hermes House', initially called 'The House of the Small
Handicraftsmen's Association' (Burger-und Gewerbeverein Haus) was
built between 1865 and 1867 and inaugurated on November 24th, 1867,
becoming both the administrative headquarters of this association and a
place for carrying on various activities such as clubbing, frequenting the
library, teaching journeymen, exhibiting handicraft products.
Although recently erected in the 19th century, on the background of
relatively few relics of the previous constructions (a wooden building, a
stone building, relics of collared ceramics, fragments of the western
main wall), the building is important from a historical point of view due to
the fact that it is situated in the center of the old town of Sibiu, and, at
the same time, due to the fact that the personalities of the time (Saxon
officials, royal magistrates) used to live here a long time ago (the
17th-18th centuries). This is attested by three stone plates, attached
later on the wall that separates the western hall of the new building,
evidence that refers to the old construction's owners (before the House
of the Small Handicraftsmen's Association and Hermes House).
Johannes Lulay's coat of arms is engraved on the central plate. Two
plates with inscriptions are placed on the right and on the left: the one on
the right bears the inscription VALENT(IN) FRANCK/JUDEX REGIUS/
ANNO 1695/ DIE 6 IUNII, while the one on the left reads ANNA MARIA
FRANKLIN/ GEBORENE/ ROSENAURIN.
The construction belongs to the neo-Gothic style (arched cellar, covered vaulted entrance). The
fašade and division also belong to the new building. In the perimeter of the Small Square, Hermes
House is a representative construction for the neo-Gothic architecture, at the same time, remarkable
for its elegance.
The symbolic name of Hermes House for the former House of the Small Handicraftsmen's Association
was given in the period following the Second World War. It was associated with the mythological
Greek god Hermes - god of commerce - and with the fact that this was the headquarters of the
guilds, while the Small Square was the market for the handicraft products during the Middle Ages.
Lately, the building has had various utilizations, and only in 1990 became the new premises for the
ethnographic museum, thus, finding its true mission of spreading the authentic values of material and
A series of successive restorations, until 1990 and, mostly, after 1996, of the different internal
compartments from the building basement (such as the exhibition room and the pedagogical cabinet),
of the permanent exhibition space, and of the attic, which was transformed into offices,
reintroduced into usage important areas of the building. The active conservation of these spaces is
realized with the help of modern technologies.