Hungarian National Museum

Budapest, Hungary | C.1837

Photo Credit: Cristina Artero

The Hungarian National Museum is the oldest institution of its kind in Hungary. Founded in 1802, it is dedicated to collecting, preserving and displaying historical relics from Hungary and the surrounding Carpathian Basin.

The museum was founded by Count Ferenc Szechenyi, who decided to donate his varied collections “for the use and benefit of my dear homeland and people, irrevocably and forever.” His sizable donation included 11,884 printed books, 1,156 manuscripts and 142 volumes of maps.

In 1813, the Hungarian government purchased the plot of land on which the present-day building stands, and the collection was moved into an old palace that occupied the area.

The construction of a worthy home for the institution became a national cause, and necessary funds for a new purpose-built structure were soon provided by the Hungarian state. The design was entrusted to Mihaly Pollack, a significant figure in Classicist architecture in Hungary, and construction began in 1837.

The museum played a significant role in the 1848-49 Revolution and War of Independence, acting as a venue for revolutionary speeches and open-air meetings. This established the National Museum as a symbol of Hungarian liberty, and it retains that identity today.

The museum is now home to a permanent exhibition which includes furniture, textiles, weapons, metalwork, ceramics and more.

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