Perhaps the most significant development is the arrival of Hungarian paintings from the National Gallery. From now on, the remit here is to showcase art, Hungarian and international, up until the late 1700s. The post-1800 collection has temporarily moved to the National Gallery in Buda Castle until a new one opens as part of the City Park regeneration project.

When the doors finally opened for the first time since 2015, a waiting crowd rushed in for a first look at what three years of renovation can do. Starting with the Michelangelo Room on the first floor, this major refurbishment now allows the gallery to showcase a new permanent exhibition dedicated to Leonardo da Vinci. Note the ten original Leonardo drawings and a bronze statue, the subject of decades of debate and conjecture, but now commonly acknowledged to be the creation of the master himself.

The Old Gallery also opened on the first floor, presenting the evolution of European painting between 1250 and 1600 – and, finally, in air-conditioned rooms. The display has been arranged chronologically, or according to certain schools or geographical areas. Here you’ll find works by Raffaello, Titian and El Greco. The Old Statue collection is then up one level, with the third floor dedicated to Hungarian Baroque.

The Egyptian Hall gives more than 650 pieces of art room to breathe, the expansive surroundings also including visitor-friendly interactive features. Head of Antiquities Árpád Nagy has reconfigured his whole department to present the exhibits in a more non-linear fashion.

One of the most neglected attractions of the Museum of Fine Arts, the Romanesque Hall, has regained its original splendour. The beautifully renovated Roman Hall is richly decorated, being elaborately covered with colourful murals. This medieval-style cultural space was severely damaged during World War II and had been closed to visitors ever since.

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Besides the paintings of the Old Masters’ Gallery, the museum’s plaster casts were also kept in this hall, used as storage space. Meanwhile, the decorations were slowly covered by dust, and the paintings began to chip.

Fortunately, everything was in acceptable condition when renovation works began. Among others, the plaster-cast replica of the golden gate of the Freiburg Cathedral was refurbished. Seventy professionals worked on the restoration, using 1500 litres of preservative, as well as five and a half kilograms of gold – their names were to be placed in a time capsule, and hidden in the rose window above the gate, in the same spot where another nearly 100-year-old time capsule was found during the renovation, listing the names of those who worked on the hall’s decoration between 1903 and 1904.

The original marble mosaic floor has been laid down and the glass surfaces of the roof have been equipped with homogenous shades to provide filtered light, as well as solar collectors.

Renovations by architect István Mányi and the Mányi Studio now allow this almost 900-square-metre unique facility, neglected and used for seven decades as storage space, to host events and attractions.

Full renovation of the Museum of Fine Arts, at Heroes Square, is not quite complete, with various works still in progress. By next summer all exhibition areas will be open to the public.


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