Where the glory days never ended: the Hungarian Art Nouveau House

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If you also find the aristocratic world of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy fascinating, we have good news for you: there is a place, deep in the heart of Budapest, that will transport you back to the early 20th century. The Hungarian Art Nouveau House is a unique collection, where everything spins a tale of the early 1900s – from the walls and furniture, down to the very last coffee cup. 

This tale of adventure begins in 1903, when the land was purchased by a wealthy factory owner, Béla Bedő and his family. Emil Vidor was the architect commissioned to design the house. He had previously studied the architectural trends of the time in various Western European capitals, and had even worked with Miklós Ybl in designing Saint Stephen’s Basilica, the Opera House and a number of other high-profile buildings in Budapest. With such extensive experience under his belt, it is hardly surprising that both the interior and the exterior of the Bedő House display characteristic elements of Art Nouveau, such as natural motifs and asymmetrical forms.  

Art Nouveau, down to the smallest detail

The façade of the house, with its special enclosed balconies, is adorned with ceramic flowers made in the famous Hungarian Zsolnay porcelain manufactory. The unique bean-shaped windows open onto the magnificent fountain in the inner courtyard.

It is worth noting that – as was customary at the time – Vidor designed not only the building, but also the furnishings intended for it, as there were no interior designers at the time, but for wealthy families, tasteful furnishings were just as important as they are today. Thus, the architect was the one responsible for ensuring perfect stylistic unity between the buildings, their furnishings, and even the ornate stained-glass windows.

The house included a number of individual apartments, where staff employed by the Bedő company could rent homes adjacent to the owner’s family, as well as a number of offices.  

The ravages of time

However, hard times fell upon the once-flourishing house. The two World Wars, the siege of Budapest, and the 1848 and 1956 wars for Hungarian independence all severely impacted the building, and its successive owners gave it ever-new functions. Over the years, it was repurposed as an antique shop, a carpentry workshop, a large-scale kitchen, and even a college lecture hall. 

A second chance

At the turn of the millennium, the building came into the custody of its current owners, Tivadar Vad and his wife. The new owners – as a tribute to the house’s past – attempted to restore the interior and exterior of the house to its original condition, thereby creating the Hungarian Art Nouveau House, evocative of the early 20th century, which awaits its visitors with its three main functions: 

  • Museum
    The once luxurious house is now home to a magnificent Art Nouveau collection, with many works of art, some Hungarian and others from all over Europe. The house continues to collect Art Nouveau works to this day. Over 600 square metres of period furniture, paintings, porcelain, ornaments, notes and everyday objects present the everyday middle-class life of a time gone by.
  • Art events
    If you are interested in Art Nouveau and are curious about today’s artists working in the genre, then you will find various roundtable discussions and periodic exhibitions allowing you to broaden your knowledge of the subject.

  • Café
    The collection, harking back to the early 20th century, would be much less impressive if it didn’t also house an authentic restaurant. Much like in the cafés that used to serve as the cultural centres of the times, you can buy savoury and sweet snacks in addition to the various hot drink specialties. Now everything is in place for those long discussions on art. 

 

The Hungarian Art Nouveau House is truly a worthy successor to the once luxurious Bedő House. Its doors are open to all who wish to experience the everyday life and culture of the peaceful glory days.
 

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