The neo-Classical building stands on the northern side of Heroes' Square
Budapest Museum of Fine Arts
Address: 14th district, Hősök tere
How to get there: Metro M1 to Hősök tere, Bus 4, 20, 30, 105, Trolleybus 75, 79
Open: 10am-5:30pm, all year round
The neo-Classical building stands on the northern side of Heroes' Square, opposite the Műcsarnok picture gallery, and houses the National collection of non-Hungarian art, from the Egyptian era to the present day. Archbishop Pyrker of Eger donated the first pieces, and a substantial amount was purchased from the Esterházy family, one of the most influential aristocratic families in Hungary in the 19th century. The collection has grown to be one of the most impressive galleries in Central Europe, containing pieces from famous artists, such as El Greco, Goya, Rembrant and Rubens.
The foundation of the Museum was decreed by the Millennium Act of 1896. At the time, a building, housing Árpád Feszty's huge panorama of the Hungarian Conquest, stood on the site. After it was made available, the building, based on the plans of Albert Schickedanz, was constructed in two stages, first the rear neo-Renaissance picture gallery wing, and then the classic section at the front. Franz Joseph I opened the building in December 1906.
At the time the building was opened, part of the collection had already been accumulated over the centuries, and was on display in the National Museum, and in the National Picture Gallery. This included the substantial Jankovich, Pyrker, Esterházy and Ipoly Collections, and was continually enlarged by purchases, donations, as well as research both at home and abroad.
Development was almost unfaltering until the Second World War, when the museum suffered serious losses and damage. A direct hit collapsed the staircase to the first floor, and completely destroyed the glass roof. Parts of the collection were carried to Germany, and when they were returned in 1946 and 1947, they either showed the scars of the previous few years, or were missing, gone on the list of war losses. The building was repaired in stages. Systematic purchases formed the Ancient Egyptian and the Antiquities Collections, doubled the size of the sculpture collection, and started a significant collection of contemporary foreign artwork.
The Museum displayed Hungarian Art, along with its International counterpart, until 1957, by which time the collection outgrew the building, and an independent Hungarian National Gallery was born. Since then, the Museum of Fine Arts became responsible for the collection, recording and exhibition of works representing international art. Today, the Museum owns over 100,000 pieces of art, divided in the following six collections: Ancient Egyptian, Antiquities, Old Picture Gallery, Old Sculpture, Modern Art, Prints and Drawings. The permanent exhibitions follow chronological order, and do not display some of the valuable pieces in poor condition, which are kept in storage, and only appear in temporary exhibitions. The storage section also contains categorized material, made fit to use for professional researchers.
Temporary exhibitions take place six to ten times a year, and are usually devoted to a specific period, school or artist. These exhibitions mobilize hidden treasures, and gather pieces of art from other Hungarian collections, as well as from museums and collections abroad. Over the last one hundred years, the building has been undergoing continual renovation, the meet the demands of increased space and improved technology.