The new Museum of Ethnography will be one of Europe's most modern ethnographic institutions and is being built at the end of the City Park promenade adjacent to the park. This area had traditionally served as the gateway to the City Park before the construction of Andrássy Avenue, and with the completion of the museum next spring it will be an important entrance to the park again. Before construction works began in 2017 there was was a very undignified and environmentally damaging parking lot for more than 1,000 cars, partly paved with concrete and partly paved with cobblestones, which is now a matter of the past - the completed institution will be surrounded by a renewed green space and a charming promenade.
"The construction of the Museum of Ethnography, which is part of the City Park Budapest Project, currently the largest cultural urban development project in Europe, is progressing according to the original plans. Last September the construction reached its highest point, and at the end of the year it will be structurally complete. By the end of this year, the construction work had reached the finishing line in a spectacular form, with the completion of the imposing glass facade surrounding the building's curved 'hillsides'." - emphasised László Baán, Ministerial Commissioner of the City Park Budapest Project. On this "glass curtain" a unique and distinctive metal grid was stretched around with a raster structure consisting of almost half a million pixels, based on ethnographic motifs selected from the museum's Hungarian and international collections. The pixels were inserted by a special robot into the laser-cut aluminium grids, of which more than 2,000 are fixed to the building. The small cubes were assembled into shapes born as contemporary reinterpretations of 20 Hungarian and 20 international (including Venezuelan, Congolese, Cameroonian, Mongolian, Chinese and Melanesian) ethnographic motifs.
This particular solution is not only aesthetically unique and distinctive but is also an important technical element of the facade, as it provides shading for the building, contributing to energy efficiency.
"Another feature of the building, the huge roof garden, which is practically a green extension of the City Park, will soon be completed: more than 3,000 cubic metres of topsoil enriched with special nutrients have been spread on the hillsides of the building, planted with plants and trees. Around 1,500 flowering and bulbous perennials, 7 deciduous shrubs, nearly 100 evergreens and almost 700 ornamental grasses were planted. In total, 7,300 square metres of parkland will be created on the roof arch of the building." - added Dr. Benedek Gyorgyevics, CEO of the City Park Ltd. The park freely accessible to the public will serve as an ambient community space offering a special panoramic view of City Park and Heroes' Square from its highest points.
It is not only on the surface where work is progressing at a good tempo: around 60 % of the building is located below ground level, where technical work is nearing completion, with a total of around 3,000 m2 of mechanical space being created to serve the building. The construction of the world-class exhibition spaces will also be completed soon, with a total floor area of almost 7,000 m2, more than three times larger than the former Kossuth Square exhibition space.
About the opening exhibitions
The arrival to City Park will be an epochal change, as the collection of 250,000 items from the Carpathian Basin and around the world has travelled a lot since the museum was founded in 1872, and has never before been housed in a building that was designed to meet the institution's needs. Now, with several times larger space of its previous exhibition spaces, the museum has found a new, purpose-built home in the City Park, where it is returning home: it was first shown to the public in 1896 in the Ethnographic Village of the Millennium Exhibition, and for many years the large Industrial Hall in the City Park was the home of the ethnographic collection.
"In the spring the Museum of Ethnography will present a spectacular temporary exhibition across more than 1,000 square metres, entitled „Megérkeztünk” ("We Have Arrived"), which will present a special selection of the most significant and emblematic objects of the collection as a cross-section. The interactive and spectacular ZOOM space will also open covering more than 5,000 square metres, presenting a unique perspective on the museum collection through a specially installed collection of objects." - said Lajos Kemecsi, Director General of the Museum of Ethnography. In the ZOOM space, the emphasis is on the visual rather than the interpretative, so in a new context we can find here, for example, the oldest Székely gate in the world dating from 1673, and one of the largest objects, a 7-metre-long wooden trunk boat carved from a single tree trunk (collected by Ottó Herman from Lake Balaton in 1898), but also fire-catching irons in various shapes, along with nearly 700 objects showing the diversity of the Museum of Ethnography. Another impressive feature of the ZOOM space will be a monumental showcase (7 x 3m) called „Ősrobbanás” (The Big Bang), which will house more than 170 objects.
A special highlight will be the Ceramics Space, 40 to 40 metres long and several metres high next to the main staircase of the building, which will display around 3,000 works of artefacts, giving an insight into the quantitative dimensions of the ceramics collection and highlighting many social themes that can be seen through the museum objects in a different light than in everyday life. In this fascinating exhibition and showcase, thousands of ceramic objects from the museum's Hungarian and international collections will be on display.
About the new collection exhibition
Following the opening of the new Museum of Ethnography, the youth exhibition and the permanent collection exhibition will open in two phases as separate attractions. Based on the institution's 150 years of rich and diverse collections, the collection exhibition, which will open in autumn 2022 and will feature more than 3,000 artefacts, photographs, manuscripts and music, will tell the exciting story of what the Museum of Ethnography is, how its objects have been assembled over time into a collection and how the collection can be reinterpreted, presented in a clear and exciting way. The exhibition tells stories about the relationship between objects and people, places and worlds, researchers and landscapes, collectors and museums. The exhibition has a modular structure, in which each theme can be interpreted as a self-contained unit but is also interconnected in many ways.
The youth exhibition, scheduled to open in autumn 2022, will use the museum's tools for playful and experiential learning, offering the most appropriate methods of reception and learning for the age groups targeted. Museum artefacts tell the stories of the everyday lives of the people, things and objects that make the world work, their differences and similarities. Themes are presented through common activities such as sleeping, eating, playing and working, telling stories or making music. Through the stories of people and objects, visitors can discover the different cultural responses to these basic needs given by their fellow human beings living or working in different parts of the world. The exhibition will be a great activity for families, groups of children, teenagers, parents and their babies: a place to play, learn, exchange ideas, relax and get involved.