The Bánffy Palace is a baroque building of the 18th century in Cluj-Napoca, designed by the German architect Johann Eberhard Blaumann from Sibiu (born in Böblingen), for György Bánffy, governor of Transylvania. Built between 1774 and 1775 it is considered the most representative for the baroque style of Transylvania. The palace has façades richly decorated with pilaster-statues, highly refined cornices; sumptuously done up inner court; aristocratic taste of inner rooms embellished with marble and stucco-works, fine parquetry, mirrors and chandeliers.
The former imposing residence of the Hungarian governors, the Banffy Palace is living two lives, one as the former palace and, after 1951, a cultural life conferred by its destination as an important cultural institution. The architect designed a plan with an enclosed court and one storey building. The storey is now destined to host The National Gallery.
Since 1951, the palace has housed the National Museum of Art Cluj-Napoca, which includes, in its Virgil Cioflec collection the works of arts of many important Romanian artists, such as Nicolae Grigorescu, Ştefan Luchian, Dimitrie Paciurea, Theodor Pallady, Camil Ressu and other. The international collection features paintings of major European artists like Luca Giordano, Carlo Dolci, Jean Hippolyte Flandrin, Felix Ziem, Ivan Aivazovsky, Herri met de Bles, Károly Lotz, Mihály Munkácsy, Franz Defregger, László Mednyánszky, József Koszta and István Réti, as well as sculptures of Claude Michel, Antoine-Louis Barye and Ernst Barlach. The graphic's collection includes works of great European printmakers of the 16th-20th centuries. Among those, the museum hosts works of Salvator Rosa, Giovanni Batista Piranesi, Honore Daumier, Theodore Gericault, Edgar Degas and Kaethe Kollwitz. The 22 halls of the Banffy Palace display sculptures, graphics, weapons, furniture, carpets, and paintings.
The Gallery professional restoration performed in 1990 rendered back its original-like aspect, yet perfectly suitable for its new role. Re-opened for public, in January 1996, The National Gallery offers a four-century synthesis of Romanian art with a stress on the artistic phenomenon in Transylvania: The Altar from Jimbor (16th century), art in the style of 1900, avant-guarde, artists related to "Şcoala Superioară de Arte Frumoase" and to the "Art Center Cluj", such as Szolnay Sandor, Pericle Capidan, Catul Bogdan, Aurel Ciupe, Alexandru Popp, Romul Ladea and others.