The Hungarian National Museum – Photo: wikipedia

Best virtual exhibitions during pandemic

Art, history, music from home

Look on the bright side, if you can, during the coronavirus pandemic. Largely confined to home, at least it is possible to see many of Budapest's best exhibitions online from the comfort of your own living room. Here is a selection of the top attractions during these “Sorry, we’re closed” days.

1. Museum of Fine Arts

The Museum of Fine Arts Budapest, which houses one of the most important collections of European art from Antiquity to the present day, celebrated the one hundredth anniversary of its opening in 2006.

The various collections – Egyptian Collection, Classical Antiquities, Old Masters’ Gallery, Old Sculptures Collection, Prints and Drawings, and the Collection of Art after 1800 – display to visitors a series of world-famous works of art by Leonardo, Raphael, De Beer, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, El Greco, Velazquez, Rembrandt, Goya, Manet, Monet, Cezanne, Picasso, Schiele, Kokoschka, Abakanowicz, Kabakov. Many of these now available online too.


2. Hungarian National Museum

Count Ferenc Széchényi, one of the country’s most eminent aristocrats offered his collection of books, medals and antiquities to his “Dear Motherland” and to the “Common Good” in 1802.

Today the task of the Hungarian National Museum is to collect, preserve and present the historical relics of the Carpathian Basin and Hungary from prehistoric times to the present using scientific methods. The museum’s permanent collection contains more than one million works, world-famous archaeological objects and priceless treasures of Hungarian history and culture.


3. Hungarian National Gallery

The Hungarian National Gallery is the largest public collection for documenting and presenting the emergence and evolution of fine arts in Hungary.

Its permanent exhibitions provide a comprehensive survey of the history of Hungarian art, beginning with the foundation of the Kingdom of Hungary and ranging from the earliest monuments to contemporary works.


4. Museum of Applied Arts

Founded in 1872, the Museum of Applied Arts is one of the oldest museums of art and design on the continent. The palace housing the museum was built in 1896, and is one of the most beautiful Art Nouveau buildings of the capital.
The core of the collection is made up by masterpieces of European decorative arts from the Middle Ages to the present day.

Permanent exhibitions: Collectors and Treasures (main building), Furniture Art from Gothic to Biedermeier (Budapest-Nagytétény Castle Museum)

5. Budapest History Museum

Budapest History Museum (Museum Kiscell) presents the 18th-21st century history of one of Central Europe’s most intriguing cities, Budapest, and of its inhabitants.

The variety of the museum objects gives the visitor an insight into the constantly changing life of the capital. Its mission is to help both tourists attracted to the city and dwellers of Budapest to discover the specific spirit and energy of the place.


6. Hungarian State Opera

The Opera House is not only one of the most significant listed buildings of Budapest but number one institute of opera playing with a 300-year-old history as well as the symbol of Hungarian classical music culture.

The Hungarian State Opera holds its absolute leading position in Hungarian theatrical life: besides the Paris Opera it is one of the greatest centres of integrated arts in the world. The Opera House seats 1260 people, 1300 with extra seats, attendance is an average 90%.

The average attendance of the Erkel, home of the largest Central European theatre auditorium is 75%, which means an average viewer number of 1373 out of a seating area of 1819 without extra seats.

The grand auditorium of the Erkel Theatre with extra seats can hold 1900 people. With the newly-operational Erkel Theatre the total number of visitors of opera and ballet performances more than doubled in 2013.


7. National Széchényi Library

Hungary’s National Széchényi Library was founded in 1802. It owes its establishment and name to a highly patriotic Hungarian aristocrat, Count Ferenc Széchényi.

At the end of the 18th century, he sought out Hungarian books in Hungary and abroad, brought them together into one single collection and donated his collection to the state in 1802. In the following year the public library, available to all, was opened in Pest.

Aiming at a comprehensive coverage, National Széchényi Library collects publications and prints of any kind produced in Hungary, receiving two deposit copies of each, non-book materials (sound recordings, video materials, documents in electronic forms, etc.), works published abroad in Hungarian language, written by Hungarian authors, translated from Hungarian or related to Hungary, as well as manuscripts in Hungarian or related to Hungary.


8. National Archives of Hungary

The National Archives of Hungary safeguards and preserves Hungarian written cultural heritage. Archival work in the 21st century is not only about collecting, cataloguing and restoring historic documents, but its duty is to serve the needs of national society and its citizens.

9. Liszt Academy of Music

Music and musicians are born in the Liszt Academy. This is a harbour to and from which ships carry musicians.
The teaching of music – all areas of classical music, jazz, folk music, church music, composition, musicology and music teacher training – takes place here, in the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music, while the nurturing stages are conducted in the Bartók Conservatory, the university’s secondary school of teaching practice and preparatory institution.


10. Holocaust Memorial Center

The Holocaust Memorial Center in Budapest is a national institution established by the government in 1999. Its activities are focused on research and education of the Holocaust.
The institution welcomes visitors with interactive permanent and special periodic exhibitions, experience-based museum pedagogical programs and cultural performances.


11. Open Society Archives

The Open Society Archives at the Central European University in Budapest is one of the world’s largest archives of Cold War, Radio Free Europe, samizdat and human rights materials, as well as a research and teaching institution, exhibition space, the repository of the Open Society Foundations.

It also hosts events held by numerous Hungarian NGOs and cultural organisations, and the initiator of significant public programs including the Verzio International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival, Budapest100, the Fortepan amateur photo archive and the Yellow-Star Houses project.


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