Experiencing Ethnography in Budapest’s Newest Museum

Museums

Lajos Kemecsi

The new building of the Museum of Ethnography in Budapest has bustled with life since its opening, featuring a diverse range of exhibitions and programs. The Budapest Business Journal interviews Lajos Kemecsi, the director general, about the museum’s accomplishments, triumphs, and future plans.

BBJ: It’s been one and a half years since the new building of the Museum of Ethnography opened. How has this new environment impacted the work in ethnography and museology?

Lajos Kemecsi: The new buildings have had a significant positive impact in all areas of museological and curatorial work. The world-class collection storage facilities and highly efficient digitization have accelerated research access and ensured modern museum record-keeping standards. The exhibition spaces, which meet all the professional requirements, are an obvious way of inspiring the various exhibition organizers with the possibilities and technical conditions available and with a wide range of equipment. The library and archive research spaces and their equipment in the new main building also represent a significant qualitative change, which naturally helps the professional work carried out in these spaces.

BBJ: How successful have the innovations been in museum education and programs?

LK: Among other features, “Méta,” the museum’s educational space, has proven to be a great success. It serves the wonderful purpose of creating an area to transfer knowledge and educate children and young people. We didn’t have such facilities before, and we are still learning how to operate them most effectively for our visitors through various projects and solutions.

BBJ: What about the range of services offered by the museum?

LK: Our most recent achievement is the launch of the “Spend the Night in the Museum” program, an event designed for school kids and families, which provides them with a unique opportunity to learn, play, and unleash their imagination, all while encountering the museum in a distinctive nighttime setting. The audience has shown great interest in it so far.

BBJ: In what ways has the visitor experience been transformed with the new building and its offerings?

LK: As had been hoped, the external features of the building, such as the freely accessible green roof, have already created the physical conditions for it to become a meeting place. The attraction of the building with freely walkable areas and two equal entrances has also been confirmed. This is evidenced by the hundreds of thousands of visitors. The meeting place feature is reinforced through the inclusion of a new co-working area and, as mentioned previously, through the “Méta” educational space and the screening room.

BBJ: What new exhibitions and features can visitors look forward to in 2024?

LK: The audience can expect a complex, exciting permanent exhibition to open in May. Regarding the temporary exhibitions, we are not slowing down; in fact, we are accelerating their implementation. Like the guest exhibition from Korea this year, we will continue to welcome such projects in 2024. We anticipate a fascinating show from Croatia showcasing hats and wearable elements in collaboration with the Ethnographic Museum in Zagreb. Moreover, we will continue the series of exhibitions that uncover our own collection, emphasizing exhibiting our exceptionally rich photo collection. Most importantly, we will continue to focus on creating an engaging atmosphere and a vibrant and lively museum.

This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of December 1, 2023.

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