Soon to be moved as part of the relocation of the Museum of Ethnography are more than 250,000 artworks, including irreplaceable items of inestimable value, collodion photographs, a 30,000 piece collection of ceramics, phonograph cylinders, strands of pearls, African shields and Japanese fans. In the summer of 2020, the institution will leave its previous building on Kossuth Square, and the packing is proceeding at a good pace. Although the Museum of Ethnography was closed to the public in December 2017, intensive work has been taking place within, since the building – imposing looking from the outside – was completely unsuited to serving as a museum. With limited storage capacity for artworks and few available rooms, the need to move became more and more urgent each year. The Liget Budapest Project offers a reassuring solution, as the building that was completed for the National Museum Restoration and Storage Centre (OMRKK) this year and the new museum building in the Városliget finally ensure that this unique ethnographic collection will be kept under the 21st-century conditions that it deserves, in accordance with the most modern standards for storage. The storage systems in the new storage areas have been tailored to the needs of the artworks, and thanks to modern climate control technology, the temperature and humidity in these rooms can finally be regulated. This means that, over the long term, the rate at which the pieces deteriorate can be significantly reduced, so the items will require less frequent restoration.
The general director reported that the complex processes of preparing for the move are being handled according to an accelerated work schedule. The museologists are engaged in parallel with developing the concepts for the new permanent exhibitions, their involvement in tasks related to designing and constructing the building, as well as with caring for, cataloguing and auditing the collection. Altogether, more than one hundred employees are working on making sure that the move can be carried out safely and securely. Each artwork has to be picked up, cleaned, identified and photographed, regardless of whether we are talking about a unique piece from Oceania or the several hundred jugs in the vast collection of ceramics. It is difficult to even imagine the magnitude of the work: approximately 250,000 items will be packed off, ranging from African tribal masks and Japanese geta to an iconostasis consisting of several hundred parts and crèches made of paper. In addition, millions of documents, pictures, photographs and negatives kept in the document collection in the archives will also be making the move during this period. Ever since the Museum of Ethnography was closed in 2017, its employees have been preparing, one by one, the 250,000 artworks for the move in accordance with their size, age and condition, no matter whether the object in question is a small ornamental "Miska" jug or an enormous Szekler gate.
Noteworthy pieces from the collection will be put on display in the Museum of Ethnography's iconic new building, which has been under construction since late 2017. The building, designed by the Hungarian firm Napur Architect, won the award for "Europe's top public service building" at the International Property Awards last year, along with the special prize for "World's Best Architecture", both of which are among the most prestigious recognitions in the world for the property industry. Currently being completed is the underground work on the building, with the foundation ready and work on the underground structure and insulation in progress. Above-ground work will commence in due course. The museum will be structurally complete by the end of next year.