He was born on April 4, 1872, in Bucharest, in an old family of small landlords. He attended high school in Bucharest. In 1892 he is appointed “preparatory curator” at the Museum of Antiquities, directed by Grigore Tocilescu. In 1893 he went to study in Germany, at the University of Műnchen, supported by King Carol I, on the advice of Al. Odobescu. Here he studied art history. Back in the country, he resigned from the Museum of Antiquities and continued his studies, going to France and again to Germany, where he was interested in museography. His mentor was Wilhelm von Bode, a reformer of Berlin museums.


After finishing his studies, he was appointed librarian, then director of the Carol I Foundation and professor of art history and aesthetics at the School of Fine Arts in Bucharest.


On October 1, 1906 Al. Tzigara-Samurcaș is appointed director of the Ethnographic, National, Decorative and Industrial Art Museum, which in 1915 became the Carol I National Art Museum. The new museum was temporarily housed in the building of the former state mint at 3 Șoseaua Kiseleff, on the site of the former palace of the ruler Nicolae Mavrogheni. From the beginning, Al. Tzigara-Samurcaș organized his museum on modern scientific bases. The acquisitions he made led to a considerable increase in the collections, the strong point being the pavilion exhibition of the house of Antonie Mogoș in Ceauru, jud. Gorj.


He began a continuous struggle to obtain from the authorities the necessary funds to build the new (current) premises, on whose plans he collaborated with the architect N. Ghica-Budești. To this end, he wrote numerous articles in the press, which he would later compile in 1936 in his book “Romanian Museography”. On 30 June 1912 the foundation stone of the new Museum building was laid. The construction suffered numerous interruptions and was not completed until 1941.


Throughout his time as director of the Museum, Al. Tzigara-Samurcaș was also involved in a prodigious activity, linked to his other important positions: director of the Carol I Foundation and professor of art history and aesthetics in Cernăuți. He wrote articles in the most varied fields, specialist works, among which folk art occupies a leading place, gave lectures on the radio or at the Athenaeum, participated in international congresses and exhibitions. Al.Tzigara-Samurcaș is becoming a reference name in the field in which he has made his name.


The situation deteriorated after the Second World War, when the communist authorities ousted him from the Museum in 1948. Old, ill and humiliated beyond measure, the Father of the Museum at the Road died on 1 April 1952.