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Contemporary ArtPermanent exhibition
The Contemporary Collection of the Hungarian National Gallery has been collecting Hungarian artworks from 1945 to the present day. It aims at becoming an assemblage that is capable of presenting, next to overall tendencies, styles and outstanding artists, artistic phenomenon that used to and still characterise the artistic life of Hungary in the last few decades.
When the Hungarian National Gallery moved to the former royal palace in the Buda Castle in 1974, adequate conditions arose to display contemporary art in exhibitions that also show the continuity of the history of Hungarian art, including the characteristics connected to the era before World War II. The primary task of the Department of Contemporary Hungarian Art established at that time was to collect and display works made after 1970 and owned by the institution since 1974. However, the bequests of prominent artists acquired by the Gallery at that time had the temporal limits reconsidered: the considerable art works by Béla Kondor, Lili Országh and Menyhért Tóth pushed the boundaries of the collected era further back, so based on the profile we now follow, we preserve “contemporary” works starting from 1945.
The development of our collection had several phases: in the different periods, the aim was to collect artworks of different nature, in accordance with the development of the all-time cultural policy. After 1974, the enrichment was based on purchases by the Művészeti Alap (Art Foundation), thus this national organisation could not only patronize less preferred artists in the 1960s and 70s, but could also provide public collections with modern and contemporary art. From the end of the 1970s, the professional staff of the museum was allowed to make recommendations and later, they were more and more involved in the work of the purchasing committees. Purchasing straight from artists’ studios was also possible, thanks to which works by progressive and Avant-Garde artists of that time could also get into public collections, next to “supported” artists. By the means of professional relationship with the Ministry, major works of the 1960s were successfully made part of the collection as well.
Since 1990, the development of the collection has been assisted by the National Cultural Fund of Hungary and individual purchases by the museum. The aim is still the versatile art historic documentation which signifies the changes in the ethos of the period with, among others, the multifariousness of the collected mediums. Currently displayed on the third floor of the National Gallery is our assemblage entitled Shifts, which presents the artistic tendencies and outstanding achievements of the last seventy years through a selection from our collection of 12,000 pieces. Apart from parallel stylistic tendencies, the exhibition reflects on the local history of exhibitions as manifestations of art history and the significance of the presentation of contemporary art by the Hungarian National Gallery in 1974.
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Contemporary ArtView exhibition
19th and 20th Century Paintings
The 19th and 20th Century Paintings Collection, currently comprising 10,000 items, holds Hungarian artworks dating from 1800 to 1945. Its origins reach back to the mid-19th century and the Founding Society of the National Picture Gallery. Based on continuous purchasing, the expanding collection was initially displayed in the National Museum.
Sculptures and Medals
Our collection preserves the most prized works of 19th- and 20th-century Hungarian sculpture along with coins, medals and plaques by Hungarian masters from the 19th to 21st centuries. In addition, it contains wax and plaster copies replacing original artworks, as well as coin works made by contemporary artists. Our holdings comprise some ten thousand items. The most outstanding works are displayed at our permanent exhibition.
International Art after 1800
The reunification of the Museum of Fine Arts and the Hungarian National Gallery has resulted in some major changes and challenges for the Collection of International Art after 1800. As the first of many steps in a process expected to last several years, the collection is moving out of the recently renovated building of the Museum of Fine Arts, which now serves as the home of art from antiquity until the year 1800.
The Hungarian National Gallery, established in 1957, uses the library that once belonged to the Metropolitan Picture Gallery, as its museum library. The holdings were later expanded with legacies of books left behind by some outstanding art historians (Dénes Radocsay, Gyula Szentiványi, István Genthon, and Gábor Pogány Ö.). The museum library’s volumes have also been augmented in recent years through purchases, domestic and international exchanges as well as donations.