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Art experiences in Budapest

National Gallery Budapest Greater Budapest

Breathtaking natural features, wonderful historic buildings, amazing food and colourful nightlife – just a few reasons why it is worth visiting Budapest. But there is so much more to do – the vibrant cultural life of the Hungarian capital offers a host of activities that are guaranteed to provide an unforgettable artistic experience. 

In addition to the traditional museums with a long historical past, discovering the city's hidden cultural treasures is also recommended. Traditional exhibitions are not always the norm, and different areas of fine art are presented from a new perspective. It doesn't matter if you prefer the masters of old of more contemporary artists; in Budapest you are sure to find exhibitions that impress and inspire you.

Classical institutions with a long history

The rich historical collections of Budapest's largest museums are impressive in themselves, but they are also worth visiting because of the buildings that house them. The historicising buildings of the Hungarian National Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts have been considered among the most beautiful museums since the 19th century. The Hungarian National Gallery will soon leave behind the imposing spaces of the Castle District and move to a new, modern-style facility. These institutions offer a captivating atmosphere to visitors who are interested in the cultural heritage of the Hungarian people and in the treasures of European art. The museums’ collections include historical relics (including the Hungarian coronation robe in the Hungarian National Museum), paintings and statues from different eras, archaeological finds and other valuable artefacts. The objects in these museums cover not only the past but also exciting topics of the present: the Hungarian National Gallery's Shifts collection, for example, presents the diversity of the second half of the 20th century, while the museums' temporary exhibitions often focus on current social and cultural issues and use new approaches to modern-day art and history.

Museums and galleries where contemporary art is in focus

The fall of the Iron Curtain gave a huge impetus to Hungarian cultural life. The Ludwig Museum was founded soon after this watershed; it accumulated a contemporary collection that is now recognised throughout Europe. The Ludwig is one of the most significant institutions in Hungarian cultural history. It has been guiding visitors through the history and development of contemporary art ever since it was founded. The collection covers significant trends and movements in visual art. The permanent collection presents the changes in artistic trends and the influence of individual artists on each other in an interesting way. Social and cultural issues arising in contemporary art as well as experimental techniques and trends are in put in the spotlight. Smaller contemporary galleries, which are also committed to contemporary artists and always present fresh, exciting art projects to the general public, provide a similarly inspiring and thought-provoking experience. The country's first contemporary gallery opened at the time of the regime change. Since 1989, Knoll Gallery, on Liszt Ferenc Square, has considered it its mission to offer artists from Central and Eastern Europe the opportunity to exhibit their art. Since then, of course, many new institutions have focused on representing outstanding contemporary artists. So if you are in the city and are interested in contemporary art, don’t miss the current exhibitions at the Várfok Gallery, the Deák Erika Gallery, the Liget Gallery, the Walter Rózsi-villa, the Hegyvidék Gallery and the Q Temporary, as these locations always offer thought-provoking, high-quality exhibitions.

A cultural experience for lovers of photography and other technical media

Although some of the institutions mentioned above regularly organise photography and media art exhibitions, there are many other institutions in the capital that are specifically dedicated to this field of fine arts. The best known of these is Mai Manó House. Its eight-story building was ordered by photographer Manó Mai in the late 19th century (and it also housed his own studio). Since then, the building has fulfilled many functions, but it regained its cultural value only at the end of the 1990s. This is when the House of Hungarian Photographers and the Mai Manó Gallery were opened. The Capa Center is an even younger institution, which also specializes in photo and media-based works, and its exhibitions often feature critical works that reflect on current social problems. Budapest also boasts several galleries that specifically promote the art of photography. It is also worth visiting the Foton Gallery and the TOBE Gallery, where you can see the works of young, innovative and progressive photographers.