- 1 Aug 2023 12:32 PM
What is the Hungarian National Gallery in Budapest?
After merging with the Museum of Fine Arts, the Hungarian National Gallery in Buda Castle holds the largest public collection of Hungarian works, spanning an entire millennium.
Considering the extent of its collection, divided into seven sections and complemented by substantial temporary exhibitions, it’s surprising how relatively young the gallery actually is.
But, just over 50 years after its foundation in 1957, the HNG gained a new lease of life with its merger, and means that many more will be making the trek up Castle Hill, by bus or funicular.
Top tips for the Hungarian National Gallery in Budapest
Anyone paying standard admission may access the gallery’s panoramic dome that characterises the skyline of Buda Castle.
Open between 10am and 5pm except in unfavourable weather conditions, the roof can be visited by up to 15 people at any one time for unparalleled views of the city.
Why was the Hungarian National Gallery created?
Originally, it was an offshoot of the Museum of Fine Arts, an attempt to gather under one single roof as many Hungarian works of art as possible. These comprised 6,000 paintings, more than 2,000 sculptures and more than 15,000 prints and drawings. At first, this roof was the one over the Museum of Ethnography, the former Palace of Justice opposite Parliament on Kossuth Lajos tér.
Soon afterwards, it was agreed that the Hungarian National Gallery should have its own space within Buda Castle – it should be remembered that well into the 1950s, even the 1960s, the Castle District was still being rebuilt after being almost completely destroyed during World War II.
Having moved into the most prestigious address in Budapest, the Hungarian National Gallery gained the status it deserved – and the general public had good reason to begin visiting the former Royal Palace once more.
When was the Hungarian National Gallery created?
It was 1957 when the authorities decided that Hungary should have its own national collection. The country was just emerging from the trauma of the 1956 Uprising and in need of positive cultural input.
Two years later, it was decided that the collection should move to Buda Castle, although its relocation to areas of the former palace converted for this purpose didn’t happen until 1975.
Where in Budapest is the Hungarian National Gallery?
The Hungarian National Gallery occupies buildings B, C and D of Buda Castle, a short walk from the upper terminus of the Funicular.
You can also access this historic landmark by the little 16 bus that pootles up from Deák Ferenc tér on one side, and Széll Kálmán tér on the other.
What else should I know about the Hungarian National Gallery in Budapest?
The Old Hungarian Collection begins with ecclesiastical carvings and wooden sculpture, then moves up to winged altarpieces, of which the gallery has probably the largest collection in Central Europe.
The later era is depicted by portraits, landscapes and still lifes, before the post-1800 period fuses Hungarian and international art, allowing viewers to see works by major global names such as Delacroix and Pissarro, along with Hungarian giants Mihály Munkácsy and Pál Szinyei Merse.
Why visit the Hungarian National Gallery in Budapest?
As well as the finest overview of Hungarian fine art, visitors can come face to face with works by some of the best-known artists of the 19th and 20th centuries, in a suitably historic, stately institution. The panoramic view from the gallery dome is an added bonus.
Virtually visit the Hungarian National Gallery in Budapest
Words by Peterjon Cresswell for Xpatloop.com
Peterjon has been researching the byways of Budapest for 30 years, extending his expertise across Europe to produce guidebooks for Time Out and his own website liberoguide.com