So, below you can read about the best museums in Budapest.
Exciting thematic exhibitions, artworks, and museums in Budapest: Get familiar with the Hungarian applied art and culture!
The Past and the Present
However, besides its present, the capital city has quite a rich and stormy past as well. It is by all means worth devoting a whole day to the museums of Budapest, where apart from history you can get familiar with arts and sciences.
These historical exhibitions, which display the old-time history of the country, provide an insight into the unique, bizarre, tragic and sometimes sadly comical past of Hungary, which has undergone two dictatorships as well. Whether you arrive from the East or West, you will experience an exciting adventure if you see the museums recommended by me.
On the other hand, just to focus on something different as well beyond the past, I have collected a few art exhibitions, where you can see unprecedented masterpieces by both domestic and foreign artists.
And at the end of the article, a real miracle is waiting for you.
„Must see museums” in Budapest
When it comes to the national past, or Hungarian history, the first place you must visit is the National Museum.
While the city is buzzling, the trams are running around and the people are chasing them, behind the fence the whole history of the Hungarian nation is waiting stationary for visitors to read it.
The prominent, neoclassical style building was established at the initiative of Count Ferenc Széchenyi, and it was designed by Mihály Pollack. We can see the past of the Hungarian nation from the very beginnings up to the regime change of 1989.
The museum gained an important role during the Revolution and War of Independence in 1848-49. The reason for it is that this was the place where Sándor Petőfi recited the National Song on 15th March, so the building became a kind of symbol of liberty for the Hungarian people.
An Exhibition called „On the border between East and West”
The exhibition got the creative name, „On the border between East and West”, which takes us back to 400000 B.C. in order to present what was here before mankind. In chronological order, it follows the lives of the peoples living here and that of the Hungarians until 804.
Apart from different geological findings, the prehistoric man is also presented, what is more, a 7.000- year-old musical instrument, which you can even listen to, is also part of the collection. It is not a Stradivari, but it is worth a try.
You can see, among others, an ax made from stone and a car originally intended to be a children toy. The third and fourth rooms present the bronze age by displaying clay idols, altars, person- and animal portrays as well as the everyday objects of that age. In the vitrines, you can see deers made from gold and cartouches from the iron age.
As it is well-known, the territory of today’s Hungary was already inhabited in the Roman Age under the name of Pannonia. It was considered a border area of high military significance by both the Romans and the enemy wishing to come in.
It is a curiosity that, while that time in Transdanubia, people were already living in towns and entertaining at amphitheater games, in the East the Stone Age was still at its peak and peoples lived in a barbaric way, just like in the previous centuries.
In the seventh room of the museum, you can get acquainted with the dreadful Huns and Germans.
About the Huns and the Conquest, you can read more details in this article of mine.
The exhibition objects present mainly the upper class of the barbaric societies. These objects are jewels, power badges, and weapons.
After seeing the Avar and Carolingian rooms, which contain elements of Byzantine, Eastern, and Western European cultures, we will go into the last room which presents the Age of the Conquest, displaying several objects to show the everyday life of the conquesting men and women through several findings.
After the Conquest
In a separate exhibition, you can see the period from the State Foundation from 1000 to 1703. The first room presents the beginnings by displaying objects connected to St. Stephen, St Ladislaus, and our first kings, among others, the funeral badges of King Béla III.
In the second room, you can see objects and memories connected to the kings of the Anjou House, such as Károly Róbert and Louis the Great. It contains several goldsmithing curiosities since this trade started to boom at that time.
Another room presents the age and the 50-year-long reign of Sigismund of Luxembourg, where you can see a crown, the orb, and a unique ornamental saddle as well, however, you can admire church equipment pieces and altar vessels as well.
The organizers of the exhibition devoted a separate room to presenting the life of the countryside. Besides the most varied tools and furniture, through mass-books printed in the 15th century, you can see even the frame of a pair of contemporary glasses. It is a question, though, what glass was in this.
It is obvious that the great Hungarian king, Mátyás Hunyadi and his age, got his own place of exhibition in the fifth room, where in accordance with the contemporary royal court the Italian Renaissance and the Central-European late Gothic period also revives. Such special objects can be seen here as the ornamentally painted shield with „M” on it, used in the royal army.
Even the Hungarian Hymn commemorates the Fekete sereg (Black Army) of Mátyás, saying: „S nyögte Mátyás bús hadát/Bécsnek büszke vára.” (And moaned after the sorrowful battle with the army of Matthias the proud castle of Vienna.). However, going back to the exhibition, we can find here the wedding dress of Habsburg Maria, what is more, even a glass goblet which is considered to be the personal glass of King Mátyás.
The sixth room vivifies the sorrowful fate of the country split into 3 parts after losing the battle in Mohács. It presents the objects from those areas which got under Turkish rule, among others several rare and valuable treasure troves.
Here you can see a Turkish leather robe which is very unique world-wide since the biggest thematic collection found in Istambul burnt down and most of the contemporary clothes were destroyed.
In the Erdély room (Transylvania room), as a result of some creativity, the personal objects of the princes of Transylvania can be found, among others the regalia of Katalin Brandenburg or the sarcophagus of György Apafi.
In the eighth room closing the first period of the Hungarian history you can gain insight into the life of the aristocracy of the 16th and 17th centuries, furthermore, you can examine several scare coins, certainly only by admiring them in the vitrines and the screens of the monitors.
Hungary up to now
The second part of the history of the country lasted from 1703 to 1990, so it closes with the regime change.
Entering the first room you find yourself in the time of the Rákóczi War of Independence, with the portray of Ferenc Rákóczi II. in the middle, painted by the famous court painter, Ádám Mányoki. Besides this, you can see here the court chair of the prince made by himself. During his years spent far away due to Turkish exile, the neat-handed prince is said to have taken his pleasure in carpentry.
In the next room, you can see objects commemorating the person of Károly III., Mária Terézia, and József II., however, you can gain insight into the contemporary cultural life of the court as well. This lightness is counterbalanced by the broadsword displayed here, which was used to execute the Hungarian Jacobines in Vérmező.
The Reform Age and its efforts are revived through the personal objects of István Széchenyi, Chancellor Metternich and I. Francis Joseph. Furthermore, the ornamental trowel used at laying the foundation stone of the Chain Bridge is also guarded here, which was made only for this purpose. The walls of the room are decorated with portrays and paintings reviving the spirit of the age. It is also worth spending some minutes here.
Certainly, there is a separate room for the Revolution and War of Independence of 1848, since it is one of the most important events in the history of the country. A printing press can also be seen here, and above that those 12 sections were read out aloud in front of the museum on the very day when the revolution broke out. Furthermore, we can find here the velvet chair of the minister, the regalia of Kossuth and so many other important memories from that age.
The next room presents the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century. It is followed by the period of the Compromise with the Habsburgs, which was full of retaliations. This fact is well represented by Lajos Batthyany’s vest pierced by a bullet (that time he was the Prime Minister). However, just to show something different from oppression, contemporary fashion is also displayed in the room.
The fifteenth room revives the turn of the century, when the culture and science started to boom so much that for a short time Hungary was in the focus of Europe. Furthermore, you can see here the legendary corset of Queen Elizabeth which she wore so tight that after an assassination attempt it saved her life since the stab wound couldn’t bleed.
Unfortunately, if we enter the next room, we are in the time of the First World War. The anti-war billboard of Mihály Bíró displays the period very well because it shows how death shovels people for cannon stuffing.
The following room presents the last peace years before the Second World War, however, in the reduced area of Hungary after Trianon. You can get acquainted here with the memories of the Rothermere-action, initiated by Lord Rothermere, English media tycoon, in the interest of revising the unjust Trianon Peace Agreement. By the way, this is the reason why many people wanted to make his son crowned to be a king, however, it was not realized in the end.
In the eighteenth room, we can see the 1920-1930s, focusing on the birth of the cinema and the sound film, on the appearance of gas stoves, fridges, and other electronic equipment, not to mention the bicycle and the car.
After a short relief, we can go on to the next room which presents the life of Hungary during the Second World War. Among the exhibition objects, we can see a coin of 5 pengő, which saved the life of the anti-German politician, Endre Bajcsy-Zsilinszky, in a firefight. The German occupation is represented in the exhibition by a BMW motorcycle.
The last room traces back how the communist regime was built, how it spread and collapsed. The central motive may be the prisoner’s clothes of Miklós Dálnoki’s son, Béla, and the picture of the labor camp of Recsk in the background, which did not even exist according to official opinions of that time.
Furthermore, this is the place where you can see the huge hand of the Stalin statue of the City Park, which was pulled down at the time of the Revolution of 1956. We can see the nippers of Imre Nagy, who died as a martyr, and the last exhibition object is the fountain pen of József Antal, who was the first Prime Minister after the regime change.
The latest permanent exhibition of the museum is the Seuso-treasure.
The exhibition of the National Museum called „The light of Pannonia” was placed in three Neo-classical rooms of the building.
The unprecedented Seuso-treasure is from a Danube extension area called Pannonia Valeria, from 350-450, which belonged to the declining Roman Empire. Through the finding which was explored in 1970, the exhibition can present truthfully the life of the elite of that time as well as the process of becoming Christian.
The goldsmith objects made from silver are unique in this age regarding both their art value and material value since only a few findings remained from the late Roman Age. The exhibitions present through its objects the social rank and role of the former owner.
Getting acquainted with the age is helped by the latest technological devices as well, you can see multimedia contents, 3D graphics, what is more, thanks to the touchscreen the objects can be virtually touched and more detailed information can be gained about them.
One of the rooms of the underground cellar system of the museum provides a home to the Roman Age lapidary. If you have visited the National Museum, you mustn’t miss it! Its rich collection is internationally renowned, and one more reason for it is that it presents the most various types of stone memories.
At the exhibition you can see tombs, stone vessels holding an urn, church-shaped cenotaphs, vow altars devoted to God, and so many other things. At the exhibition, we can see more stones engraved with a text, due to which you can get acquainted with the social, office structure and with the strategy of the period as well.
The Coronation Mantle
The most valuable treasure of the museum, which is the Coronation Mantle ordered to be prepared by King St. Stephen and Queen Gizella in 1031, can also be seen in a separate room. The unprecedented piece of the European textile art was made from rosette pattern Byzantine silk, which is almost entirely covered with gold embroidery.
The picture seen on the mantle is also unprecedented as if it was the print and copy of the thinking of the Middle Ages. Such things are visible on that as the motive of defeating death, Old Testament Prophets, Jesus, Virgin Mary, Church Saints, and of course King St. Stephen and Queen Gizella are also portrayed on the mantle.
The value of the unprecedented masterpiece is increased by the fact that until the 20th century it was used as the coronation mantle of the Hungarian kings.
House of Terror Museum
This part of the article will be a bit tougher (the museum is not recommended for small children), but if you are at least a bit interested in the history of the recent past, and what a dictatorship is capable of, you must come here!
Budapest with a child: 25 scenes which are really enjoyable for children.
This name wasn’t given to the museum by chance, as the building at 60. Andrássy Avenue was really the house of terror.
The Neo-Renaissance residential house, which was built based on the designs of Adolf Feszty, was taken possession of first by the Nazis in 1944, later by the State Security Department (ÁVO) and the State Protection Authority (ÁVH). So it is a symbol of the Nazi and communist dictatorship as well, and it is blood-curling just to think it over that both systems used the same building for making people confess, for torturing and murdering people.
Something is drifted by water: Shoes on the Danube bank – recalling the horror
Only the passwords changed, but the point remained: terror remained the same. In the prisons and torture-chambers found in the building, a total of 3500 people were killed during the two regimes.
According to a truthful description, the House of Terror is a post-modern torture-museum, and it got this name because the authentic rooms are made even more shocking with strong sound- and visible effects for the audience. The written text material is nothing compared to the view we get if we go there.
The cellar – the most depressing place in the House of Terror
In the cellar of the museum, we can find cells where the prisoners were held, there is a water cell where the prisoners waited for days in cold water up to their knees.
There are cells where the prisoners couldn’t straighten their backs, so they could only sit. Besides the rooms of Retribution, Emigration, and Tears, we can find here the Torture Chamber, with the most creative tools of torturing. This is the most depressing part of the museum; all the others are a bit less shocking.
The ground floor
On the ground floor, we can find the hall where thematic films are broadcast. On the staircase a statue gallery can be seen, and, in the yard, a tank stand, which once fired at the revolutionists of 1956.
The first floor
On the first floor, several rooms of the dictatorship can be seen, among others, that of Gábor Péter, the former leader of ÁVH (State Protection Authority), which was reconstructed based on photos and accounts.
In the spirit of post-modernism in the room reviving truthfully the 1950s, there are digital monitors, which broadcast the reports and accounts of the leaders of the regime, the interrogators and the victims. On the first floor, you can find the Beating Room as well, where on the wall different torturing devices hang, such as a nailed stick, lead-headed bamboo stick, or arrow-crossed bamboo stick.
In the room named Everyday Communism, you can see contemporary billboards and objects, which bring back truthfully the everyday of the former regime.
The Mindszenty room commemorates the life of József Mindszenty, Cardinal Prince, who lost his life due to the regime.
The second floor
On the second floor, we can find eight exhibition rooms and a smaller projection room, where we can see in chronological order the everyday of the Nazi and Soviet occupation. The Gulag room shows the world of forced labor and slave camps.
The room of the Fifties presents Hungary after the war. In the room named Double Occupation, animation helps the visitors to understand the operation of the two dictatorships.
The last room to enter is the Room of Farewell, which commemorates the exodus of the Soviet troops in 1989. After visiting this place, I am sure you can do with a beer to digest all the things you saw and the information you got. Fortunately, in the surroundings, there are some good places to sit in.
In memoriam 25 October 1956
If you are already deeply engrossed in a dictatorship, just to make your experience complete, let me recommend you another, although less-known but similarly exciting, tragic museum. This is the exhibition called „In memoriam 25. October 1956.”
The museum can be found under Kossuth Square, and it takes up 350 m2. Nobody knows if it was a concept, but at any rate, the scene symbolizes perfectly how much the regime wanted to bury all the events of 1956. The leaders of that period wanted to act as if these had never happened.
The under-ground memory currently commemorates the fusillades of 25. October 1956. What happened is that the demonstrators gathered at Kossuth Square protesting against the regime. It is still unclear who issued the order, but it is a fact that Kossuth Square was full of casualties and dead people after the 10-15-minute long small arms- and tank gunfire.
The fusillades taken place at Kossuth Square are revived through contemporary objects, photos, and documentaries. The center of the exhibition is the rotunda, the scene of commemoration, where we can see the memorials of 1956. of Imre Makovecz and László Gömbös.
On the walls, there are several memorial copper plaques with the victims’ names on them, and we can see plaques even without names, these pay honor to the unknown deceased victims. There is also an interactive, touch-screen map in the exhibition room, which presents the scenes of the fusillades of 1956.
Budapest is one of the most beautiful European metropolises. If you come here as a visitor, and you are interested in more than just the present of the city, you must see the Castle Museum, which is anyway a core element of the Budapest History Museum consisting of 3 scenes.
Hardly known, unprecedented sights in Budapest which are not included in any guide books.
Another reason why it is worth going up to the castle, either on foot or by bus, is that the Buda Castle is one of the most beautiful buildings in the capital city, it is the core element and living memory of the history of the city. It is no coincidence that it has been listed as one of the World Heritage Sites for a long time.
Light – and Shadow Exhibition: the display of the 1000-year-long history of the capital city
Although the exhibition objects displayed here contain more than 40.000-year-old archeological findings as well, the story of the permanent exhibition is provided by the last 1000 years of the city.
The exhibition room has been arranged to imitate the location of the city, with a curvy corridor in the middle, which is designed to symbolize the Danube. The rooms present in chronological order the period ranging from the antique history up to the regime change of 1989.
If you do not know the history of the city, you must spend exciting and useful hours here. The corridor is not only curvy like the Danube, but in a certain respect, it also waves, since the basic concept of the exhibition is to present Budapest as it was destroyed and then rebuilt several times during history.
In the frame of the exhibition, which takes up nearly 900 m2 on the first floor of the museum, you can follow the stormy and less stormy centuries of history with the help of nearly 1000 exhibition objects. Anyway, the title of the exhibition also refers to this duality.
You can get acquainted with those social, architectural, cultural and economic-historical events which elevate Budapest to one of the most exciting cities of Central-Europe. At the same time, besides the big historical relations, the former habitants and visitors of the city also say their experiences by way of travel records, notes and other documents, which tell stories about the former city to the viewer of the present, that is, to you.
Besides the main exhibition several other permanent ones can be seen, one of which is the prehistoric exhibition, where we go back to the period when the place of the current city was inhabited by pure nature, with different animal and plant species.
By watching unique findings you can gain insight into what used to be on the site of Budapest. The exhibition dates back to 50.000 years ago, embraces the period when the Neanderthal people lived, through the Celtic and Roman times up to the beginning of our chronology.
In the frame of another exhibition, we can admire Gothic statues in the Royal Palace. Even the story of the exhibition is interesting. The contemporary sculpture of King Sigismund (1368-1437) consisting of more thousands, smaller and bigger pieces, was found only in 1974 in a cellar of a nearby residential house.
The sculptures portraying both religious and secular themes are all masterpieces of excellent artists from different countries and regions of Europe. It is still unknown in which part of the palace the statues stood, and it is also similarly unclear when and why they disappeared from there.
The Palace History Exhibition
The historical exhibition of the palace itself can also be seen here under the name of „The Chair and Throne of the Royal Dignity”. It is really worth watching if you visit here.
It is worthy since it is about one of the most representative scenes and building complexes of Budapest. The core of the Palace History Exhibition is provided by the objects and memories explored in the course of archeological excavations.
In a digital screen, we can get to know in chronological order the history of the ruling Houses and families living here. Furthermore, with the help of a 3D animation, we can see the state of the castle as it looked like in around 1540, or as it is imagined to look like by today’s historians.
We must point out that on the path leading to the Királypince (Royal Cellar), we can get acquainted with the library of Mátyás Hunyadi, which is remarkable even at a European level. And if it is still not enough, you can see and thumb the authentic copy of the famous Philostratus codex, if you are interested in rare books.
We can get acquainted with the history of the palace through the exhibition named „The Royal Palace – the castle of culture” as well. However, it brings us a bit closer to the present by escorting us from 1686 up to now along history. Besides the object findings and contemporary paintings, different projections and the devices of modern technology help us not to get lost in time.
Hungarian National Gallery
The Buda Castle provides a home to another museum as well, called the Hungarian National Gallery, which has the biggest Hungarian applied art collection.
Apart from different interesting temporary exhibitions, we can find several permanent ones as well if you are keen on applied art. The huge exhibition provides exciting things to see, ranging from the state foundation up to the contemporary applied art of our days.
Gothic art in Hungary
The exhibition named „Gothic art in Hungary” displays the domestic Gothic art of the period between 1300 and 1500. The core elements of the exhibition presenting the art life and artworks of the late Middle Ages are provided by tablet pictures, wooden statues, and wing altars as well as the furniture and fittings of the churches of that time.
The exhibition halls which have been professionally reconstructed recall the atmosphere of the Middle Ages exactly the way it was like. You can easily feel as if you had traveled back some hundred years in time. The written text introductions and maps are designed to help you get to know more about the culture of the Middle Ages.
The art of the late Renaissance and Baroque years
If we go on in time, the next permanent exhibition presents the art of the late Renaissance and Baroque years, through the period between 1550 and 1800.
Here you can see masterpieces of Mannerists made in Vienna and Prague, and at the same time, you can admire domestic Church memories from the 17th century. Even the Hungarian castle-culture revives with its Baroque sceneries, while regarding the 18th century, you can get engrossed mainly in the masterpieces of Silesian and German artists.
The art of the 19th century
The exhibition presenting the art of the 19th century takes its place on the first floor of the museum. The collection is made up of nearly 150 paintings, 40 statues, 33 applied art objects, and 40 unique coins, and you can even spend long hours admiring if you are really interested in the paintings and the art of painting of the period.
Just to mention a few, world-wide known and recognized painters whose works are also on the walls, I could highlight István Ferenczy, Pál Szinyei Merse, Miklós Izsó or Miklós Barabás. Besides the priceless artworks, you can also gain insight into the history of the art institutions established at that time.
The permanent exhibition of the 20th century got the name of „Modern times”, and it focuses mainly on the art of the period between 1896 and 1945. The exhibition contains 150 paintings, 30 statues, 200 coins.
You can admire here the works of more known artists, such as those of Béla Czóbel, Dezső Czigány, Bertalan Pór, and József Rippl-Rónai, just to mention a few. However, you can see some masterpieces of less well-known artists as well.
The exhibition makes it easier for the visitors to understand symbolism and Art Nouveau, by way of presenting their styles’ features.
The Munkácsy Exhibition
Although ranking artists is not easy, there is no doubt that the most known and most impressive Hungarian painter was a Don Juan type of man with an adventurous life. He was called Mihály Munkácsy, who half of America’s art world was keen on.
Therefore, it is understandable that the life work of the master is presented in a separate room, and it was given the name of „Mihály Munkácsy and the realism of the end of the century”.
The exhibition presents the career of the painter from the beginnings, leading us through the romantic Vienna, Munich, Dusseldorf periods, even through the Parisian realism to the great works made in America. Even some of the pictures of László Pál, Munkácsy’s good friend who died young, can be seen at the exhibition.
Last but not least, just to make the exhibition complete, such artists’ paintings can be seen in a separate room, who already created their works in Munkácsy style. Some of the more known ones are Géza Mészöly, Lajos Deák Ébner, Sándor Bihari, Adolf Fényes or József Koszta.
Museum of Fine Arts
It is considered to be one of the best museums in Europe due to its huge collection. The reason does not only lie in the fact that the number of artworks found here is more than 100.000, but due to the fact that the historical continuity and variety of the collection is unique.
In the Neo-classical style building, which was inaugurated by Franz Joseph I. in 1906, the works of such world-wide famous artists can be seen as Raffaello, Leonardo da Vinci, Dürer, Rembrandt or Goya.
The Egyptian Collection
The Egyptian Collection is the second biggest exhibition of this theme in Central-Europe. The recently renewed exhibition is based around three big units:
- Church – Gods
- Nile Valley – People
- Graveyard – Dead
Besides the stained mummy-coffins, you can find here more than 500 object memories. You can get to know the mysterious ancient Egyptian writing, the amulets having miraculous power, what is more, you can gain insight into the secrets of magia as well.
We can enter a real grave at the exhibition, but you are recommended to do so only if you are brave enough not to be scared by your own shadow. The exhibition is made even more spectacular with the help of interactive devices, and at the same time, it helps to make the whole period more understandable.
However, after the Egyptian exhibition, our prehistoric time is still not over since in the frame of the Antique Collection you can get acquainted with the Greek, Etruscan and Roman culture as well.
The exhibition is made colorful by everyday use objects, art pieces, and it is designed to present to us how the ancient people lived their lives.
The Collection of Old Statues
The Collection of Old Statues traces back the European sculpture from 1350 to 1800, and you can see 650 artworks from 6 centuries.
You can find here masterpieces of the German Gothic style as well as those of the Italian Renaissance or the Austrian Baroque period. The Madonna statue by Tilman Riemenschneider, the Madonna made from wax by Jacopo Sansovino, or the legendary grimacing Karakterfejek(Character Heads) by Franz Xaver Messerschmidt, the excellent representative of the Austrian Baroque style are also guarded here.
The exhibition, in an imaginative way, makes us get to know the way and techniques as well as how these masterpieces were made in different periods.
The European Art Exhibition
The European Art Exhibition presents the period between 1250 and 1600 by displaying more than 400 artworks and masterpieces. The core element of the exhibition provides insight into the world of Italian paintings through the most important regions, such as Toscana, Rome Veneto, Emilia, Romagna or Lombardia.
The birth and fulfillment of different styles are represented at the exhibition by the masterpieces of such famous artists as Raffaello, Leonardo da Vinci or El Greco.
As the exhibition consists not only of statues and paintings, but also of engravings and applied art objects, it is possible to get a comprehensive overview of the art of the period, furthermore, by this, the exhibition draws attention to the connection between culture and history as well.
Old Hungarian Collection
If you happen to be interested in Hungarian art as well, you must see the Old Hungarian Collection, too. The exhibition takes the visitors back to the period from the 16th century up to 1800.
It is not particularly elevating, however, the section about the 17th century is very interesting. Here you can get acquainted with the Church art and mortuary cult. The truthful atmosphere is provided by pictures of monasteries, epitaphs, and portraits of the dead.
You can get to know the castle culture of the Baroque aristocracy as well through portrays, still lives and the furniture and fittings of the castle as it once used to look like. The portrays and still lives by Jakab Bogdány and Ádám Mányoki, who are known in the whole of Europe, can also be seen in the frame of the exhibition.
Less known museums in Budapest
If you are more interested in contemporary art than the masterpieces of old times, you must visit the Ludwig Museum, which can be found in the Palace of Arts (MÜPA).
In cutting-edge museum-technological circumstances, in an area of 3300 m², you have the opportunity to admire the exhibition, but it may be more precise to say that you can think about the existence and essence of the contemporary international and Hungarian masterpieces.
The museum itself was established by the Ludwig couple in 1989, and the collection consists of two main parts. One of them provides insight into the American and Western-European masterpieces donated by the couple, among others in the spirit of pop art and photorealism. The other one is a collection, which is getting bigger and bigger over time, and it focuses on the art of the former socialist countries from the 1980s.
The collection was compiled in a way that the works reflect a progressive spirit. Emphasis has been put on the search for identity, getting in touch with the past as well as how the Eastern-European art responded to the social systems and traditions.
By now the collection has become of international significance. The exhibitors are internationally-recognized artists, whose works you can encounter at domestic and foreign events, exhibitions as well. The definite disclosed purpose of the permanent exhibition is to compare and analyze the similarities and differences between Eastern- and Western-European Art.
This analysis and comparison are done through such artists who searched for new fields of art, even in a way that they confronted the prevailing political and social regime. The museum provides even a mobile phone exhibition-guiding service, you just need to download on your mobile phone the application called Cultural Places, and your mobile will guide you all along the exhibition.
It is undoubtedly one of the most exciting museums in Budapest. The open-air exhibition makes only the younger generations travel back in time.
The generation is still alive which was forced to face in the streets of Budapest with those statues which fortunately have become exhibition objects by now.
One can gain insight into the culture of communist politics, and into the fact that even art could be a means of power and terror. In the park, you can see 42 statues, memorials, and other artworks, which were mounted in public squares and streets „to the pleasure of everyone” between 1945 and 1989.
The keyword is „monumentality”, which conveys the message on how small one is compared to the gigantic state. The message also contained that you must pull yourself in the background if you want to survive. It is meant in a way that otherwise your nails will be torn off. However, if you visit the House of Terror, you can get to know more about this.
The gigantic masterpieces include the statues of such persons who may be well known by everyone, for example, Lenin, Marx, Engels, Dimitrow, Captain Osztapenko or Béla Kun, and certainly the soldiers of the heroic Red Army.
Furthermore, you can find here the allegorical memorials of the Hungarian-Soviet Friendship and Liberation as well. If you were so lucky as to be able to visit Eastern-Europe and Hungary during the socialist era, you must know that the Hungarian-Soviet Friendship was a perfect hatred itself, while the Liberation was complete oppression. But unfortunately that time the opposite of this was claimed everywhere.
At any rate, whether you arrive from the West or East, it is worth seeing the Memento Park: the exhibition proves to be a commemoration for Eastern-Europeans, whereas a real specialty for the Western-Europeans.
Opposite the main entrance, there is a huge tribune. At the top of the Memorial of 1956, you can see the life-size replica of the boots of the statue of Sztálin pulled down during the revolution. Just to enhance the atmosphere, you can hear that on the radio next to the cash desk labor movement songs are played, and you can even sit in a displayed Trabant. If you have never sat in a Trabant, you must try it.
Palace of Wonders
The Palace of Wonders cannot be literally called a museum, because according to its official definition it is rather an interactive scientific exhibition, where you can get acquainted with the world of physics and other sciences in a playful way.
Anyhow, it is worth a visit, whether you are good at maths or not. The scientific playhouse established in 1993 was the first initiative of this kind in Central- and Eastern-Europe. It was the idea of the Eötvös Lóránd Physical Society and the Rubik International Foundation. The latter one may sound familiar to you, as the world-wide known Rubik Cube is the invention of the Hungarian man, Ernő Rubik.
You can get to know how magnetism works. Furthermore, you can find here an exhibition about the physics of the Solar System. In the gossip corner, you can get acquainted with the lives of famous scientists, and even the mystic experiments of Isaac Newton can be revealed.
Currently, the Palace of Wonders provides opportunities for visitors to be entertained and familiarize with different sciences in an area of more than 5000 m2. It is a real physics and chemistry laboratory. Several curiosities expect the guests in the Palace of Wonders to try, such as adventure projections, 27 interactive experiment tables, escape rooms, special soccer tables and so many other things.