Monument Protection Archives Reopen in Budapest

Janice K. Johnson

Viktor Myskovszky’s drawing of the Saint Michael chapel
 at Kassa (Košice, SK)

The national system of monument protection has been through many changes in Hungary during the last few years: have a look at the diagram on the website of the institution to get an idea. I did not report on every step of this process (the most recent overview dates from almost three years ago)  – which led to the complete closing of Hungary’s National Office for Cultural Heritage. While day-to-day tasks of heritage protection are carried out by various ministries and government offices, the care of the rich archives of the national office was uncertain for some time.
Finally in 2017, the Archives were handed over to the Hungarian Academy of Arts. This institution is now called Hungarian Museum of Architecture and Monument Protection Documentation Centre. The Academy took care of moving the collections to a new, temporary location, where now they have been made accessible again. As indicated by the name, part of this collection is that of the Hungarian Museum of Architecture, which is also supervised by the Hungarian Academy of Arts.

The Monument Protection Document Service represents the most significant collection of archival material for the study of the historic Kingdom of Hungary. Material accumulated at the archives since 1872, the foundation of the Temporary Committee for Historic Monuments, and it covers the entire territory of the Carpathian basin. All the documentation of the major restorations carried in Hungary during the last decades of the 19th century can be found there, along with documents surveying monuments of the land. During the 20th century, material continued to accumulate there.

The Document Service consists of the following parts:

  • Historical archives – this is where all the documentation is kept, along with correspondence
  • Collection of plans – plans and drawings are kept here, along with a super-important collection of watercolor copies of medieval wall paintings
  • Photo repository – the largest collection of historic photographs of Hungarian monuments
  • Library – Hungary’s most important library specialized in monument protection, restoration, etc.
Copy of wall painting at Mártonhely (Martjanci, SLO) by István Gróh

Romanesque stone carvings from Pécs cathedral, photo by Péter Gerecze

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