Hungarian National Museum

Budapest, Hungary

The Hungarian National Museum was founded in 1802 and is the national museum for the history, art and archaeology of Hungary. The museum is in Budapest VIII in a purpose-built Neoclassical building from 1837-47 by the architect Mihály Pollack.

The Hungarian National Museum traces its foundation to 1802 when Count Ferenc Széchényi set up the National Széchényi Library. This would then be followed a year later by the donating of a mineral collection by Széchényi’s wife. This led to the creation of the Hungarian National Museum as a general and natural history museum, and not only a library. In 1807 the Hungarian National Parliament passed legislation on the new institution and asked the nation to help donate to the museum.

The Hungarian Parliament of 1832-1834 helped with the growth of the museum as well. The parliament voted in favor of giving half a million forint to help with the construction of a new building for the museum. During this time the Hungarian National History Museum was officially set up under the Hungarian National Museum. Later in 1846, the museum moved to its current location of VIII. Múzeum krt. 14-16. Here the museum resides in a neo-classical style building designed by Mihály Pollack.

In 1848 the Hungarian National Museum played a major role in the Hungarian Revolution. The Revolution was partially spurred by the reading of Sándor Petőfi’s 12 points and the famous poem Nemzeti dal on the front steps of the museum. This helped give the museum an identification as a major national identity for Hungary. In remembrance of the revolution two statues were added to the museum. The first is a statue of János Arany which was unveiled in 1883. Later in 1890 there was a statue next to the stairs of the museum of a memorial tablet to Sándor Petőfi. In addition during this time the Upper House of the parliament held its sessions in the Cereminial of the museum. This continued until the new house of Parliament was built. Today in remembrance festivities for National Commemorations Day of 1848 are held in front of the museum.

In 1949 an act mandated that the ethnographic and natural history part of the Hungarian National Museum had to split off of the main museum, and are now the Hungarian Natural History Museum and Ethnographic Museum. This also helped with the setting up of the modern day National Széchényi Library. All of these separate museums are still interconnected and other museums and monuments have become affiliated with them over time. The most recent addition was the Castle Museum in Esztergom that joined in 1985.


The Hungarian National Museum has seven permanent displays. The general history of Hungary is covered in two sections: the archaeology from prehistory to the Avar period ending in 804 AD on the first (ground) floor, and the history from 804 to modern times on the first floor. This display covers topics such as the age of the Arpads, the long Turkish occupation, Transylvania and royal Hungary. More modern and Contemporary history covered begins with the Rákóczi War of Independence, showing different sections of his military attire and various coins. The history section then ends with the rise and fall of the communist system in Hungary. In another hall on the second floor one can find out about the Scholar Hungarians who made the twentieth century. A room on the first floor displays the medieval Hungarian Coronation Mantle.

The ground floor’s permanent exhibit is focused on Medieval and Early Modern stone inscriptions and carvings. This exhibit looks at various stone relics and the carvings that have been made into them. The majority of the items in this collection were discovered during the 60’s and 70’s since they looked for more relics post World War II. The final permanent exhibit is placed in the basement of the museum. This is the Roman Lapidary exhibit, which is a collection of ancient Roman stone inscriptions and carvings.



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Founded: 1802
Category: Museums in Hungary


4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Ludkahuska (15 months ago)
Only short walking distance from metro stop Kalvin terr and bus stops. If you like history this museum is worth of spending time in. Very nice building and exposition. We have used Budapest card. They have coat room downstairs,info desk, free WC. Pay extra for audio guide. Wifi.
Frank S (15 months ago)
First visit to this wonderful museum of Hungarian History. The building itself like many in Budapest is reason enough to visit. Stunning frescoes and architectural details that have been beautifully and carefully maintained. We spent about 5 hours here which was not long enough as we all enjoyed going through most of the sections in great detail. From the Hungarian Stone Age right up until the 90's the museum has interesting and well displayed artifacts with many detailed explanations. One thing I've noticed in many Hungarian museums is a lack of explanations of materials used in various items. For instance what type of wood, leather, gut, feathers etc were used in the construction of a hunting bow? Or what type of material was the mannequins peasant dress made from? Cotton, Wool, Hemp etc? I really enjoyed my visit here and will probably come again next time I'm in Budapest.
Delphine Mousseau (15 months ago)
This museum is a great start for a discovery trip if Budapest. The museography is of great quality and allows to explore the history of Hungary in an entertaining way. Go through the ages, starting with the prehistoric times, going through medieval to modern era, room by room. Every stage has just enough things on display to be interesting without feeling overwhelmed. Most written information is also available in English.
John Colclough (2 years ago)
There is a lot to see here, and you would probably need best part of a day to fully appreciate all the exhibitions. It is a fascinating journey through the ages and the exhibits are well presented and are precious. It is reasonably priced we thought going in and definitely when you going out. I wish I had had more time to spend in there but alas we had to cram a lot in 2 days. If you can go and spend the time it is a good place.
satish. chekuri (2 years ago)
Detailed exhibits but on rather general topics including ancient European / Hungarian history. Beautiful museum describing the history of Hungary. If you have time the second floor is a stunning collection! You need to pay more if you want to take pictures. Beautiful building.with stunning interior. Full of amazing artifacts. Great way to spend two or three hours.
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