• 001 - the logo.jpg
  • 002 - Hiroshima sunset.jpg
  • 003 - Auschwitz-Birkenau ramp.jpg
  • 004 - Chernobyl contamination.jpg
  • 005 - Darvaza flaming gas crater.jpg
  • 006 - Berlin Wall madness.jpg
  • 007 - Bulgaria - monument at the bottom of Buzludzhy park hill.jpg
  • 008 - Ijen crater.jpg
  • 009 - Aralsk, Kazakhstan.jpg
  • 010 - Paris catacombs.jpg
  • 011 - Krakatoa.jpg
  • 012 - Ho Chi Minh mausoleum, Hanoi.jpg
  • 013 - Uyuni.jpg
  • 014 - DMZ Vietnam.jpg
  • 015 - Colditz Kopie.jpg
  • 016 - Glasgow Necropolis.jpg
  • 017 - Hashima ghost island.jpg
  • 018 - Kazakhstan.jpg
  • 019 - Arlington.jpg
  • 020 - Karosta prison.jpg
  • 021 - Kamikaze.jpg
  • 022 - Chacabuco ghost town.jpg
  • 023 - Eagle's Nest, Obersalzberg, Berchtesgaden.jpg
  • 024 - Kursk.jpg
  • 025 - Bran castle, Carpathia, Romania.jpg
  • 026 - Bestattungsmuseum Wien.jpg
  • 027 - Pripyat near Chernobyl.jpg
  • 028 - Sedlec ossuary, Czech Republic.jpg
  • 029 - Pyramida Lenin.jpg
  • 030 - Falklands.jpg
  • 031 - Majdanek.jpg
  • 032 - Soufriere volcano, Montserrat.jpg
  • 033 - moai on Easter Island.jpg
  • 034 - Sidoarjo.jpg
  • 035 - Hötensleben.jpg
  • 036 - Natzweiler.jpg
  • 037 - Polygon, Semipalatinsk test site, Kazakhstan.jpg
  • 038 - Srebrenica.jpg
  • 039 - Liepaja, Latvia.jpg
  • 040 - Vemork hydroelectric power plant building, Norway.jpg
  • 041 - Enola Gay.jpg
  • 042 - Pentagon 9-11 memorial.jpg
  • 043 - Robben Island prison, South Africa.jpg
  • 044 - Tollund man.jpg
  • 045 - Marienthal tunnel.jpg
  • 046 - Aso, Japan.jpg
  • 047 - Labrador battery Singapore.jpg
  • 048 - Artyom island, Absheron, Azerbaijan.jpg
  • 049 - Treblinka.jpg
  • 050 - Titan II silo.jpg
  • 051 - dosemetering doll, Chernobyl.jpg
  • 052 - Holocaust memorial, Berlin.jpg
  • 053 - Komodo dragon.jpg
  • 054 - cemeterio general, Santiago de Chile.jpg
  • 055 - Tuol Sleng, Phnom Phen, Cambodia.jpg
  • 056 - West Virginia penitentiary.jpg
  • 057 - ovens, Dachau.jpg
  • 058 - Derry, Northern Ireland.jpg
  • 059 - Bulgaria - Buzludzha - workers of all countries unite.jpg
  • 060 - Sachsenhausen.jpg
  • 061 - Tiraspol dom sovietov.jpg
  • 062 - modern-day Pompeii - Plymouth, Montserrat.jpg
  • 063 - Pico de Fogo.jpg
  • 064 - Trinity Day.jpg
  • 065 - Zwentendorf control room.jpg
  • 066 - Wolfschanze.jpg
  • 067 - Hiroshima by night.jpg
  • 068 - mass games, North Korea.jpg
  • 069 - Harrisburg.jpg
  • 070 - Nuremberg.jpg
  • 071 - Mostar.jpg
  • 072 - Tu-22, Riga aviation museum.jpg
  • 073 - Gallipoli, Lone Pine.jpg
  • 074 - Auschwitz-Birkenau - fence.jpg
  • 075 - Darvaza flaming gas crater.jpg
  • 076 - Atatürk Mausoleum, Ankara.jpg
  • 077 - Banda Aceh boats.jpg
  • 078 - AMARG.jpg
  • 079 - Chacabuco ruins.jpg
  • 080 - Bucharest.jpg
  • 081 - Bernauer Straße.jpg
  • 082 - Death Railway, Thailand.jpg
  • 083 - Mandor killing fields.jpg
  • 084 - Kozloduy.jpg
  • 085 - Jerusalem.jpg
  • 086 - Latin Bridge, Sarajevo.jpg
  • 087 - Panmunjom, DMZ, Korea.jpg
  • 088 - Ijen blue flames.jpg
  • 089 - Derry reconsilliation monument.jpg
  • 090 - Ebensee.jpg
  • 091 - Mödlareuth barbed wire.jpg
  • 092 - skull heaps in Sedlec ossuary, Czech Republic.jpg
  • 093 - Nikel.jpg
  • 094 - Fukushima-Daiichi NPP.jpg
  • 095 - Tital launch control centre.jpg
  • 096 - Dallas Dealy Plaza and Sixth Floor Museum.jpg
  • 097 - Auschwitz I.jpg
  • 098 - Stalin and Lenin, Tirana, Albania.jpg
  • 099 - Malta, Fort St Elmo.jpg
  • 100 - Peenemünde.jpg
  • 101 - Tarrafal.jpg
  • 102 - Kilmainham prison, Dublin.jpg
  • 103 - North Korea.jpg
  • 104 - Mittelbau-Dora.jpg
  • 105 - St Helena.jpg
  • 106 - Stutthof, Poland.jpg
  • 107 - Merapi destruction.jpg
  • 108 - Chueung Ek killing fields, Cambodia.jpg
  • 109 - Marienborn former GDR border.jpg
  • 110 - Mig and star, Kazakhstan.jpg
  • 111 - Nagasaki WWII tunnels.jpg
  • 112 - Hellfire Pass, Thailand.jpg
  • 113 - Kiev.jpg
  • 114 - Grutas Park, Lithuania.jpg
  • 115 - Zwentendorf reactor core.jpg
  • 116 - two occupations, Tallinn.jpg
  • 117 - Trunyan burial site.jpg
  • 118 - Ushuaia prison.jpg
  • 119 - Buchenwald.jpg
  • 120 - Marienthal with ghost.jpg
  • 121 - Murmansk harbour - with an aircraft carrier.jpg
  • 122 - Berlin Olympiastadion.JPG
  • 123 - Bastille Day, Paris.jpg
  • 124 - Spassk.jpg
  • 125 - Theresienstadt.jpg
  • 126 - B-52s.jpg
  • 127 - Bledug Kuwu.jpg
  • 128 - Friedhof der Namenlosen, Vienna.jpg
  • 129 - Auschwitz-Birkenau barracks.jpg
  • 130 - mummies, Bolivia.jpg
  • 131 - Barringer meteor crater.jpg
  • 132 - Murambi, Rwanda.jpg
  • 133 - NTS.jpg
  • 134 - Mauthausen Soviet monument.jpg
  • 135 - pullution, Kazakhstan.JPG
  • 136 - palm oil madness.jpg
  • 137 - Berlin socialist realism.jpg
  • 138 - Okawa school building ruin.jpg
  • 139 - Pawiak, Warsaw.jpg
  • 140 - flying death, military museum Dresden.JPG
  • 141 - KGB gear.JPG
  • 142 - KZ jacket.JPG
  • 143 - ex-USSR.JPG
  • 144 - Indonesia fruit bats.JPG
  • 145 - Alcatraz.JPG
  • 146 - Chernobyl Museum, Kiev, Ukraine.JPG
  • 147 - Halemaumau lava lake glow, Hawaii.JPG
  • 148 - Rosinenbomber at Tempelhof, Berlin.jpg
  • 149 - Verdun, France.JPG
  • 150 - hospital, Vukovar, Croatia.JPG
  • 151 - the original tomb of Napoleon, St Helena.JPG
  • 152 - Buchenwald, Germany.JPG
  • 153 - Bhopal.JPG
  • 154 - Groß-Rosen, Poland.jpg
  • 155 - at Monino, Russia.jpg
  • 156 - blinking Komodo.jpg
  • 157 - inside Chernobyl NPP.JPG
  • 158 - Mount St Helens, USA.JPG
  • 159 - Maly Trostenec, Minsk, Belarus.jpg
  • 160 - Vucedol skulls, Croatia.JPG
  • 161 - colourful WW1 shells.JPG
  • 162 - Zeljava airbase in Croatia.JPG
  • 163 - rusting wrecks, Chernobyl.JPG
  • 164 - San Bernadine alle Ossa, Milan, Italy.jpg
  • 165 - USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.JPG
  • 166 - Brest Fortress, Belarus.JPG
  • 167 - thousands of bats, Dom Rep.JPG
  • 168 - Hohenschönhausen, Berlin.JPG
  • 169 - Perm-36 gulag site.JPG
  • 170 - Jasenovac, Croatia.JPG
  • 171 - Beelitz Heilstätten.JPG
  • 172 - Kremlin, Moscow.jpg
  • 173 - old arms factory, Dubnica.JPG
  • 174 - Pervomaisc ICBM base, more  missiles, including an SS-18 Satan.jpg
  • 175 - Cellular Jail, Port Blair.jpg
  • 177 - control room, Chernobyl NPP.JPG
  • 178 - Podgorica, Montenegro, small arms and light weapons sculpture.jpg
  • 179 - Vught.jpg
  • 180 - Japanese cave East Timor.jpg
  • 181 - Ani.jpg
  • 182 - Indonesia wildfire.jpg
  • 183 - Chacabuco big sky.jpg
  • 184 - Bunker Valentin, Germany.JPG
  • 185 - Lest we Forget, Ypres.JPG
  • 186 - the logo again.jpg

Hungarian National Museum

  
 3Stars10px  - darkometer rating: 3 -
  
Hungarian National Museum 01   Neo Classicist pileThe grand old dame of museums in Hungary’s capital city Budapest. It deserves a mention on this website for its sections about the country’s modern history with its many dark chapters in the 20th century. Though the coverage isn’t particularly in-depth, there are a few remarkable artefacts amongst the exhibits that are worth seeing.

>More background info

>What there is to see

>Location

>Access and costs

>Time required

>Combinations with other dark destinations

>Combinations with non-dark destinations

>Photos

   
More background info: For a brief historical overview see under Hungary and Budapest, and for specific aspects of the country’s history see 1914-1922 exhibition (WW1 and its aftermath), Holocaust Memorial Center, Hospital in the Rock & Nuclear Bunker (WWII and Cold War), House of Terror (of both the Nazi and the communist variety), 1956 Memorial and New Municipal Cemetery (for the 1956 uprising and its crushing).
  
The Hungarian National Museum has its origins in the early 19th century, when the National Parliament passed legislation to turn a recently founded National Library into a museum proper. Donations and state funding came together and the new home of the museum was purpose-built at its present location between 1837 and 1846 in a grand neoclassical style, a speciality of its architect, Mihály Pollack.
  
After WWII the natural history and ethnographic parts were separated from the museum and moved to new locations (ethnography more than once – see under Budapest); so from then on this National Museum has really been the National History Museum of Hungary. It includes a lot of archaeological artefacts from earliest times and antiquity, plus sections covering modern history. It is the latter in particular that make the museum relevant as a dark-tourism attraction (see concept of dark tourism).
  
The following text hence concentrates only on those 20th century sections, but this section offers a brief glimpse at the other parts of the museum.
  
   
What there is to see: The neoclassical museum building looks more like a faux ancient Greek temple, but inside the whole range of history from before antiquity to almost the present day is covered. It is of course the 20th century parts that are of particular interest from a dark-tourism perspective. If you want to head straight there after purchasing your ticket (and photo permit – see below!), ignore the  directions to the beginning of the exhibition that you’ll be given, and instead head straight upstairs to the rear half of the first floor.
  
The coverage of the modern age begins with a room about the tail end of the Belle Époque soon to be shattered by WW1. The coverage of the Great War in this museum is rather thin and superficial, as is that of the brief communist phase in the early interwar years (for more on that visit the 1914-1922 exhibition in Buda instead!). The coverage of the period up to WWII isn’t all that revealing either.
  
Things get a bit better (museum-wise!) with the onset of WWII, the Nazi German occupation and the role of Hungary’s own home-bred Nazi organization, the Arrow Cross (cf. House of Terror). A dummy Arrow Cross soldier as well as various Arrow Cross insignia are featured in the exhibits. But their role in the rounding up and murder of Jews in 1944 isn’t exactly elaborated on.
  
Generally, the museum mostly lets the exhibits speak for themselves. That is: there isn’t much in terms of longer explanatory texts, though displays are also here and there augmented by interactive screens. All texts and labels are all bilingual in Hungarian and English. The translation quality is generally alright, though there are a few strange glitches and stylistically awkward bits. It certainly helps if you come prepared with at least a basic grounding in Hungarian modern history, as the exhibition isn’t overly educational, more just documentary.
  
The Holocaust only gets a brief mention on the side, where the focus is on the issuing of protection documents by the embassies of e.g. Sweden and Switzerland to save Jews from deportation (cf. Holocaust Memorial Center).
  
More elaborate is the section of the return of communism, beginning with the liberation of Hungary by the Red Army at the end of WWII and the subsequent installation of a Soviet-loyal communist regime.
  
On display are various period propaganda posters, a Stalin statue and a grandiosely designed radio receiver specially made for Stalin’s 70th birthday, as a sign explains.
  
Much more mundane everyday life items are on display too. The Soviet-style campaigns of industrialization and enforced collectivization of agriculture are covered as well.
  
The aspects of repression and surveillance by the secret security police AVH (for ‘Államvédelmi Hatóság’, Hungarian for “State Protection Authority”) is a topic here too, as are the forced-labour camps to which many thousands of Hungarians were banished in the wave of purges in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
  
In my view, the best section here is that about the 1956 uprising and revolution under reinstated prime minister Imre Nagy, and the subsequent brutal crushing of the revolt by the Soviets. There are several remarkable artefacts to see, including a specimen of the Hungarian flag with a hole in the middle where the communist symbol was cut out. Such flags became THE symbol of the uprising (cf. 1956 Memorial).
  
Lying on a bench in a mock prison cell is Imre Nagy’s original dressing gown that he wore in prison after he was deposed and arrested by the Soviets and put on a mock show trial (and sentenced to death). A separate display cabinet has a few personal belongings of Nagy’s, including a pair of his characteristic spectacles.
  
The museum exhibition continues with coverage of life under communism post-1956, with lots of yet more propaganda posters (in Hungarian, so their exact meaning remains obscure to non-Hungarian-speaking international visitors), communist-era symbols as well as model fighter planes and space vehicles from the Soviet times. There’s a reconstructed living room of the era, as well as displays of household appliances from the time.
  
Eventually we come to the next revolution, beginning in the late 1980s, including the first cutting open of the Iron Curtain by Hungary in 1989. It was through this opening that GDR citizens then fled to the West during the so-called Pan-European Picnics, which triggered a chain reaction not just in the collapse of the GDR regime but signalling the beginning of the downfall of all the communist regimes in the Eastern Bloc and the subsequent end of the Cold War. A certified piece of cut barbed wire from the Iron Curtain that used to separate Hungary from Austria is on display.
  
Also on display are various street signs featuring names that were suddenly no longer wanted, such as Marx, Engels and Lenin, but also Hungary’s early Bolshevik “martyr” Béla Kun (who briefly led a Hungarian communist regime after WW1 and was later purged and executed near Moscow in 1938). A toppled sign of the communist party completes the displays about the end of this era.
  
Covered too is the rehabilitation of Imre Nagy, his reburial and a commemorative ceremony on 23 October 1990 at the plot 301 memorial site in the New Municipal Cemetery.
  
Finally, the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact is covered with the display of the relevant signed document in a glass display cabinet (and one of the pens used for this is in there too). This also ends the museum’s modern history coverage. So there’s nothing about more recent developments such as Hungary joining NATO and the EU, or the rise of Viktor Orbán and the refugee crisis of 2015.
  
All in all, the museum’s modern history coverage is a bit brief and lacks depth – there’s a dearth of interpretative/explanatory text material – but on the other hand there are several remarkable artefacts and mock-ups that on balance make a visit worth the while. Just don’t expect to really learn much through the museum itself. Instead better do your homework and acquaint yourself with the basics of 20th century Hungarian history before you visit this museum.
  
  
Location: Right in the city centre of the Pest side of Budapest, on Múzeum körút between Kálvin tér and Astoria.
  
Google Maps locator: [47.4912, 19.0626]
  
  
Access and costs: easy to get to, not the very cheapest, but OK.
  
Details: Getting to the museum is easy, either take the metro (lines 3 and 4), tram lines 47, 48, 49 or bus lines 9, 15, or 115 to Kálvin tér, from where it is a short walk up Múzeum krt. The huge neoclassical museum building is impossible to overlook.
  
Opening times: Tuesday to Sunday, normally from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., but open late to 10 p.m. on Fridays. Closed Mondays.
  
Admission: 2900 HUF (some concessions apply)
  
A photography permit costs an extra 1000 HUF – if you do want to take pictures, remember to ask for this permit when you buy your ticket, as they won’t alert you to it. And if you don’t have a permit, the numerous museum wardens in the exhibitions will pounce on you to stop you taking photos!
 
   
Time required: not long if you just want to see the 20th century parts – I spent ca. half an hour in those. But if you also want to see the rest of the museum properly you’ll need significantly longer.
  
   
Combinations with other dark destinations: Strictly speaking, the rest of the museum falls outside the time bracket relevant for dark tourism (see concept of dark tourism), though you could argue that some of the archaeological displays, with their ancient broken skulls, whole skeletons in graves or that strange elongated (“deliberately malformed”) woman’s skull, do have a certain dark aura to them.
  
For more proper dark-tourism attractions in the city see under Budapest in general.
  
   
Combinations with non-dark destinations: If you’re also open for looking at old history and archaeology, then this museum has plenty more to offer, from prehistory, Roman times, the early Magyars, Ottoman times, etc., etc., all exemplified by a wealth of artefacts like pots, jewellery, clothing, weapons, tools, and whatnot. Personally, I tend to find such “old stuff” a bit tedious, though I admit various items I spotted as I skim-visited these older history parts did have their aesthetic appeal.
  
At one point a museum warden ushered me into a side section I had intended to skip altogether, but on her insistence went into after all. That way I got to see an exhibit that I admit does have some momentous significance: the grand piano specially made for Ludwig van Beethoven, and later used by Hungary’s musical great Ferenc Liszt (aka Franz Liszt outside Hungary).
  
For tourist attractions outside the National Museum see under Budapest in general.
  
 
 
  • Hungarian National Museum 01 - Neo-Classicist pileHungarian National Museum 01 - Neo-Classicist pile
  • Hungarian National Museum 02 - grand staircaseHungarian National Museum 02 - grand staircase
  • Hungarian National Museum 03 - the onset of the modern ageHungarian National Museum 03 - the onset of the modern age
  • Hungarian National Museum 04 - WW1 and a first stint at communismHungarian National Museum 04 - WW1 and a first stint at communism
  • Hungarian National Museum 05 - German occupationHungarian National Museum 05 - German occupation
  • Hungarian National Museum 06 - home-grown NazisHungarian National Museum 06 - home-grown Nazis
  • Hungarian National Museum 07 - Arrow Cross insigniaHungarian National Museum 07 - Arrow Cross insignia
  • Hungarian National Museum 08 - persecution and rescue of JewsHungarian National Museum 08 - persecution and rescue of Jews
  • Hungarian National Museum 09 - the Red Army comesHungarian National Museum 09 - the Red Army comes
  • Hungarian National Museum 10 - StalinHungarian National Museum 10 - Stalin
  • Hungarian National Museum 11 - pompous radio made for StalinHungarian National Museum 11 - pompous radio made for Stalin
  • Hungarian National Museum 12 - communist life gets rollingHungarian National Museum 12 - communist life gets rolling
  • Hungarian National Museum 13 - secret security policeHungarian National Museum 13 - secret security police
  • Hungarian National Museum 14 - forced-labour campHungarian National Museum 14 - forced-labour camp
  • Hungarian National Museum 15 - the uprising of 1956Hungarian National Museum 15 - the uprising of 1956
  • Hungarian National Museum 16 - symbol of the uprisingHungarian National Museum 16 - symbol of the uprising
  • Hungarian National Museum 17 - allegedly a Stalin statue handHungarian National Museum 17 - allegedly a Stalin statue hand
  • Hungarian National Museum 18 - the crushing of the 1956 uprisingHungarian National Museum 18 - the crushing of the 1956 uprising
  • Hungarian National Museum 19 - personal belongings of Imre NagyHungarian National Museum 19 - personal belongings of Imre Nagy
  • Hungarian National Museum 20 - life under communism post-1956Hungarian National Museum 20 - life under communism post-1956
  • Hungarian National Museum 21 - communist symbolsHungarian National Museum 21 - communist symbols
  • Hungarian National Museum 22 - Soviet-led glories in aviation and space explorationHungarian National Museum 22 - Soviet-led glories in aviation and space exploration
  • Hungarian National Museum 23 - consumer appliances of the communist eraHungarian National Museum 23 - consumer appliances of the communist era
  • Hungarian National Museum 24 - young pioneerHungarian National Museum 24 - young pioneer
  • Hungarian National Museum 25 - revolution againHungarian National Museum 25 - revolution again
  • Hungarian National Museum 26 - names no longer wantedHungarian National Museum 26 - names no longer wanted
  • Hungarian National Museum 27 - the Iron Curtain is openedHungarian National Museum 27 - the Iron Curtain is opened
  • Hungarian National Museum 28 - the Warsaw Pact dissolvedHungarian National Museum 28 - the Warsaw Pact dissolved
  • Hungarian National Museum 29 - ancient goldHungarian National Museum 29 - ancient gold
  • Hungarian National Museum 30 - ancient skullHungarian National Museum 30 - ancient skull
  • Hungarian National Museum 31 - ancient graveHungarian National Museum 31 - ancient grave
  • Hungarian National Museum 32 - deliberately deformed skullHungarian National Museum 32 - deliberately deformed skull
  • Hungarian National Museum 33 - ancient silver handHungarian National Museum 33 - ancient silver hand
  • Hungarian National Museum 34 - grand piano of Beethoven and LisztHungarian National Museum 34 - grand piano of Beethoven and Liszt
 
 
 
 
 
    

© dark-tourism.com, Peter Hohenhaus 2009-2022

Cookies make it easier for us to provide you with our services. With the usage of our services you permit us to use cookies.
More information Ok