Selection from the permanent exhibition of Castle Museum. The history of Budapest in the 19-20th centuries.
Plaques commemorating the devastating flood of 1838 with a mark showing the level reached by the floodwater are to be found on many buildings in Pest and Buda. This flood plaque in Hungarian and Serbian is from the house at number 15 Döbrentei utca, in Tabán, also known as Rácváros (“Serbs’ town”). There is an exact replica in the building today.
This painting is a real curiosity, because the painter, Ferenc Újházy, had been an eye-witness to the scene represented when he was a soldier. In an inscription on the back, Újházy described how four soldiers carried Imperial Colonel Allnoch on a stretcher improvised from a ladder after he sustained fatal wounds in an unsuccessful attempt to blow up the Chain Bridge.
This painting by an unknown artist probably shows the disastrous moment in 1903 when the “Turul”, a balloon belonging to the Hungarian Aero Club, collided with a wall. It had broken from its moorings in strong winds and crashed into the building of the Lipótváros Gasworks. One of its passengers, landowner Pál Ordódy, fell out of the gondola and died. The painter – to judge from the costumes and the 18th century-like houses – placed the event in a past time.
After the armistice at the end of the First World War, tens of thousands of people fled the areas of Hungary invaded by the Czechoslovakian and Romanian armies to the reduced territory of Hungary, a large proportion of them public officials and teachers, with their families, who went to Budapest. The city temporarily accommodated the refugees in railway wagons. Several charitable campaigns were launched to help the “wagon dwellers”, and this poster advertises one of these, a collection by the South Hungary League in 1920.
In its original state, the doors of this two-part ornamental cabinet – designed by Emil Kajdy and made by Béla Kajdy around 1928 – opened to reveal a map of Great Hungary, as can be seen on the contemporary photograph. The map has since disappeared, its previous owners having replaced it with a mirror.
One of the most notable photographers who recorded the Second World War was Yevgeny Khaldei, whose most famous picture was of the Soviet flag being unfurled on the Reichstag in Berlin. Khaldei was also in Budapest during the siege, and he took this moving picture of a Jewish couple following the liberation of the ghetto in Pest.
The Hungarian communist party leader János Kádár – having learned the lesson of his predecessors – always prevented the emergence of any cult involving himself. For that reason, there are very few works of art recording his image. Nonetheless, Pál Pátzay, an eminent sculptor of the time, somehow managed to get Kádár to sit for this bust to be made of him. It was given to the Budapest Municipal Gallery, where it lay for a long time in a storeroom.
This documentary picture from 1956 was taken by the amateur photographer Gyula Nagy, and as can be seen, he was not alone. Nagy exposed nearly forty rolls of film in October 1956. Many photographers destroyed or hid their work to protect themselves after the Revolution was put down. Nagy did neither. He was arrested in 1957 and his photographs were confiscated. Fortunately, 29 rolls of photographs have survived. This one, which he entitled “Körút, tanks, and life in motion”, was taken in Corvin köz [lane] some time around 30 October.
A signal event of the political transition was an attempt by the opposition Hungarian October Party to remove the street signs of Münnich Ferenc utca and restore the original street name. In 1989, the organisation’s founder, György Krassó, climbed a ladder, crossed out Münnich’s name, and put up the former name of the street. Later, the authorities removed the Nádor utca sign, prompting Krassó to obscure Münnich’s name with red paint – whereupon the Budapest Council had a new sign made. The name was finally changed after the transition.
Concept: Roland Perényi
Reproductions: Ágnes Bakos, Judit Szalatnyay, Bence Tihanyi
Video Animation: Judit Wunder
Translation: Alan Campbell