With the help of our guide, visitors can discover thousands of years of artworks held in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, which opened its doors in 1906. This was the first Hungarian public collection dedicated to presenting international and Hungarian art in a specifically designed building, which was considered very modern in its time. The museum was not founded by royal decree
and the works on show were not from a royal collection: the establishment came into being by unifying earlier institutions that were formed from the collections of the Hungarian nobility and intellectual elite.
1957 saw a fundamental change in the objectives of the institution, when the collections of Hungarian and European art were separated, and the Hungarian National Gallery was founded. This move was necessitated by the welcome increase in the size of the collections, as the Museum of Fine Arts could no longer accommodate the vast amount of art objects that had been accumulated over the previous half a century. As a result of this separation, the Museum of Fine Arts focused on collecting, processing, and exhibiting works of European art from antiquity to the present day.
In 2011, the decision was taken to reunite the collections of the Hungarian National Gallery and the Museum of Fine Arts. However, due to the gladly received growth in the quantity of artworks, these thousands of years of memories of Hungarian and universal art can no longer be housed in a single building. A new separation was therefore required, which now divides the works according to their age. Since its reconstruction, the Museum of Fine Arts overlooking Heroes’ Square exhibits art created before 1800, while works produced after that date will soon be given a new home nearby in the state-of-the-art building of the New Hungarian National Gallery. Under the new arrangement, winged altarpieces, panel paintings, sculptures, architectural carvings, and other works of art from the Middle Ages and the baroque period in Hungary will once again constitute an emphatic presence in the Museum of Fine Arts. As artistic connections in the centuries before 1800 were extremely complex, the items on display in the permanent exhibitions of the Old Hungarian Collection, which contains artworks created or commissioned in Hungary between the eleventh century and early nineteenth century, not only reflect the painting and sculpture of historical Hungary, but also refer to the art traditions that prevailed throughout Central Europe.