Image: © József Rosta/Ludwig Museum
From the bold, to the beautiful and the downright bizarre, here’s a roundup of our favourite alternative museums in Budapest.
Budapest might be mostly known for its historic castles and thermal baths, but interestingly, there are more museums here than the other two combined. From history and art, all the way to folklore and nature, the city is speckled with hidden gems which are definitely worth a visit. You may have marked up the traditional museums in your guidebook, but let us take you on a tour that’s set to mesmerise and intrigue, through the alternative museums of Budapest. Here are the ones we enjoyed the most:
Rather than visiting the traditional masterpieces stowed away at the Hungarian National Gallery, why not wander off to the Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art? Packed with the country’s most interesting collection of contemporary art from around the globe bound by a single common factor; they’re all under 50 years old.
Whether you’re after bursts of colour from the likes of Andy Warhol, fresh pieces from the Hungarian masters, or intriguing works by some of Hungary’s most up-and-coming artists, there’s definitely more than meets the eye at this impressive museum.
Step right into the darker side of Hungarian history at the Terror Háza – if you dare. Located along the popular Andrássy Avenue, and once the headquarters to Hungary’s secret police force, the museum solemnly remembers the crimes and atrocities of the past carried out by the former communist and fascist dictatorships. Today, the museum serves as a memorial to all the victims who were held and tortured inside and showcases a number of exhibitions; including a haunting visit to the prison cells. Nevertheless there’s no need to despair – the tour ends on a positive note emphasising that freedom has overcome cruelty.
If science is your thing, a trip to the Semmelweis Museum of Medical History is a must. Interestingly, this building was once the childhood residence of Dr Ignaz Semmelweis, one of the veterans in antiseptic procedures. This museum is the country’s finest representations of the country’s surgical and medical history, and today houses an eclectic collection of wonderful and bizarre items. Visitors are able to browse through a series of exhibits that follow the development of medicine throughout the ages, as well as sneaking a peak at the mysterious ‘shrunken head’, as well as Clemente Susini’s anatomical Venus.
Despite its relatively mundane title, the Museum of Hungarian Agriculture is definitely one of the most unique museums in Budapest thanks to its enchanting setting. Located inside a Transylvanian-looking castle, visitors are ushered into the main Hunting Hall – a stunning vaulted space decked out with hundreds of sets of antlers. Apart from taxidermy displays and hunting relics, visitors are also able to browse through a number of exhibits dedicated to Hungarian agriculture ranging from fishing, to forestry and plant life.
They say that the best way to learn about a particular country is through its people, at least that’s what the idea behind the Museum of Ethnography is. Housed inside a resplendent Neo-Renaissance palace, the Néprajzi Múzeum offers visitors a scintillating insight into Hungarian life with replicas of peasant homes and bold exhibitions. The main areas showcase a number of cultural titbits from the late 18th century all the way through to World War One, and include pottery, books, furniture, clothes, handicrafts, and folk music in the collections.