Hungarian Museum of Photography
Due to austerity measures, the Hungarian Museum of Photography will be closed until 28 February 2023.
Kecskemét, Katona József tér 12.
6001 Kecskemét, Pf.: 446
GPS: N 46.90520, E 19.69427
E-mail: fotomuzeum [at] fotomuzeum [dot] hu
Tuesday – Saturday, 12 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Adults: 500,- HUF
Students, Pensioners: 300,- HUF
Wednesday from 11 am. to 1 pm. and from 2 pm. to 4 pm. Previous booking is required.
The history of the museum
The History of the Hungarian Museum of Photography
The development of the Museum's idea in Hungary
The idea of placing photographs in a museum appears at first in 1862. Ferenc Veress, a photographer in Kolozsvár, appeals to the official photographers of the country in the columns of Ország Tükre (The Mirror of the Country):
“Our photographers would do a great service to our country if they took pictures of eminent persons in the fields of science, art, industry and commerce, collecting them in order to give the pictures to the national museums. Personally, I've been planning to do this for years, and I will start this year. Indeed, my intention is to take pictures of famous persons with outstanding spiritual or material talents in the field of literature, art, business and industry, without excluding anybody because of nationality, religion or gender.
The other big service that photography could do for history would be to immortalize for future generations every antiquity, castle, ancient palace, church ruin and cavern that is still standing but could vanish within a decade.”
This plan will be only partially achieved.
In 1874 the first daguerreotype is bequeathed to the Hungarian National Museum.
On 1st May 1880 the first national Exhibition of Amateur Photographers is opened. The organisers intend to give the material of the exhibition as a foundation for a museum of photography. If this plan had been fulfilled – as Imre Fejős writes in the 8th issue of the Fotó (Photo) magazine of 1957 – we would have a unique iconographic collection of our history of photography.
In 1895 at the organization of the Universal Exhibition Ferenc Veress suggests again for the preparing committee to invite the 400 Hungarian professional photographers of the time to take pictures of our landscape, our monuments, and famous people, and then after the exhibition to offer the photos to a museum.
The plan won't be pursued either.
After 1915 Ervin Kankowszky on behalf of the MAOSZ organization (National Association of Hungarian Amateur Photographers) assumes the task of working on the creation of a museum of photography.
The following news is published in November 1921: “Károly Hirsch, József Amster, Dénes Rónai, Adolf Váradi and Pál Kis have offered images with the intention of founding a museum of photography.”
In 1925 the 24th issue of the Magyar Fotográfia (Hungarian Photography) magazine presses for the creation of a public museum, taking the example of the photographic section of the Deutsches Museum in Munich.
In 1929 Miksa Gárdonyi, the director of the Museum of Archaeology makes an announcement to the “society of Hungarian photographers” in the 10-11th issue of the Magyar Fotográfia (Hungarian Photography) magazine.
He reports the decision of the Industrial Association of Photographers in Budapest to start a collection in the Museum of Archaeology in order to commemorate the famous Hungarian artefacts of the history of the photographic industry.
In 1934 in the 12th issue of the Magyar Fotográfia (Hungarian Photography) magazine Simon Neuberger, a senior master photographer writes the following: “At the moment, it is still possible to gather for a few pennies or for free objects and accessories... that have a museological value, such as cameras, finished or half-finished products, silhouettes, daguerreotypes, etc., in order to found a museum of photography. I know that right now all of us struggle with financial problems, but I see it as an obligation towards future generations to save these objects from disappearing.
Let's establish together the foundation of a museum of photography!”
In August 1935 Ervin Kankowszky informs the photographers about the progress of the organisation. The general meeting of MAOSZ (Association of Hungarian Amateur Photographers) is also discussing the plans in 1935, as well as the general meeting of EMAOSZ (United Association of Hungarian Amateur Photographers) in 1937.
In April 1937 Pál A. Veres, the director of the Industrial Association of Photographers in Budapest, mentions as well the importance of establishing a museum of photography. “Our one hundred years old profession that has already gained so much success for the Hungarian nation, has now reached its maturity to recall its glorious past on the walls of a museum.”
In 1939 István Kerny and Ervin Kankowsky begin to collect the material of the future Hungarian Photo-Museum and to work out the special storage conditions.
In July the Magyar Fényképész (Hungarian Photographer) magazine mentions for the first time the plans of the Hungarian Photo-Museum organised by Ernő Gyimesi-Kásás.
In August Ernő Gyimesi-Kásás writes the following to the same magazine: “The plans of creating a Hungarian museum of photography are now finished. The museum is collecting material at the editorial office (Semsey Andor Street 5, Budapest, 4th district) and the publishing office (Erzsébet Boulevard 43, Budapest, 7th district, 2nd floor) of the Hungarian Photographer magazine, the official magazine of the Industrial Association of Photographers and Photographic Processors in Budapest. For further information, please contact Ernő Gyimesi-Kásás.”
According to the Hungarian Photographer magazine of 25th December, “The Hungarian Photo-Museum has been established this year. Our editor collected all images, and on the 5th September meeting announced officially the foundation of the photo-museum.
The inheritor of Koller, Adolf Szenes, like the honorary president Oszkár Kallós, and Angelo offered a collection of special value that fills an entire room. But others contributed as well with important donations, like Aladár Székely, László Székely, Dénes Rónai, Géza Ryba...”
On 1st January 1941 Ervin Kankowszky and István Kerny found a Museum of Photography as part of EMAOSZ (United Association of Hungarian Amateur Photographers), but this wasn't an independent institution, and it didn't have a separate location either.
In May Ervin Kankowszky makes an announcement to ask for old pictures and donations of other objects for the EMAOSZ Museum of Photography.
The July issue of the Hungarian Photographer magazine writes: “Before limiting the number of pages in our magazine, we have written a lot about the idea of founding a museum of photography and about gathering its collection... Some master photographers have offered us particularly valuable collections. We have received not only pictures but original daguerreotypes, statues and medals too. This material will be placed in our industrial association in special cupboards.”
In August Kálmán Boronkay writes in the name of the industrial association: “We have laid the foundation of a museum of photography.”
In April 1942 according to the report of Kerny and Kankowszky 3199 objects and 950 books are registered in the Hungarian Photo-Museum.
In January 1943 the First Hungarian National Press Exhibition is held in Budapest. The pictures in the Hungarian Photo-Museum's collection are shown for the first time to the public at the exhibition. At the same time, Ernő Gyimesi-Kásás appeals for help in order to multiply the volume of the collection. Just like the one organised by the amateur photographers (EMAOSZ), this museum was not independent; it was organized by the photographers of the industrial association and didn't have a separate museum building. None of them worked as a real museum, they were just declared as such.
In 1943, the August issue of the Fotóművészet (Art Photography) magazine writes: “EMAOSZ has founded a museum of photography some years ago. Since then it has been collecting old cameras, the works of master photographers of the last century (pictures and all products of the Hungarian written or published photo-literature), that is to say everything that can give information on the history of photography. We Hungarians have joined very early the forerunners of photography... In order to enlarge the collection of our museum we ask the understanding Hungarian public to help in this cultural task. We call for everyone who owns objects related to the history of photography to offer them to the museum.”
In September the Hungarian Photo-Museum's collection registers 3315 objects and 950 books, that is to say it has acquired 114 objects within approximately one year.
In 1957 in the 5th issue of the Fotó (Photo) magazine we find again the claim: We need a museum for art photography! The last sentence of the article points out: “The Association of Hungarian Art Photographers (Magyar Fotóművészek Szövetsége) also plans the organisation of a museum of art photography.”
On 1st January 1958 the photo-historic collection of the Association of Hungarian Art Photographers is launched.
In the April issue of the Fotó (Photo) magazine Dr. Zoltán Király publishes an article on the recently established photo-historic collection.
In the beginning of 1963 the exhibition “The history of photography” is inaugurated in the main building of the National Technical Library. In the Fotó magazine Dr. Jenő Sevcsik writes the following: “Everybody who possesses or knows about relevant objects from a photo-historic point of view is requested to report it to the Group Collecting and Registering Technical Relics (Kinizsi Street 39, Budapest, 9th district). They will be registered in order to place them later in a museum or to borrow them for temporary exhibitions.”
In December 1967 the Photo-Historic and Museological Committee of the Association of Hungarian Art Photographers (MFSZ) officially decides to begin the collection of the most significant works of contemporary Hungarian art photography. In 1968 the Association buys on two occasions 419 pictures altogether from the following artists: Attila Alapfy, Demeter Balla, Ferenc Botta, Imre Gál, Gyula Holics, Rudolf Járai, Kata Kálmán, Kálmán Klell, István Károly Kovács, Dr. Tibor Rehák, Pál Réti, Dr. József Szabó, Kálmán Szőllősy, János Sztály, Ede Tomori, László Vámos and Iván Vydareny.
In 1969 in the 4th issue of the Fotóművészet (Art Photography) magazine Károly Szalay states that he would expect from the inauguration of a museum of photography to improve the level of our photo-culture.
In 1978 Edit Molnár submits a request to the Ministry of Culture concerning the subject of the museum.
In the spring of 1980 a plan is developed to locate the Museum at the villa Pásztor as part of the Hungarian National Gallery.
But the plans are aborted because of the cost of the building’s renovation.
In October 1981 Tamás Féner, the general secretary of the Association of Hungarian Art Photographers (MFSZ), writes a letter to Dezső Tóth, senior state secretary, concerning the location of the Photo-Historic Collection.
On 15th January 1982 Dezső Tóth decides to transfer the collection immediately to the Hungarian National Gallery.
In July a draft-agreement is elaborated between MFSZ and the Gallery.
In November the National Gallery refuses to receive the Photo-Historic Collection.
In January and February of 1983 several articles are published in the daily press about the museum of photography (Magyar Nemzet : István Katona, Tamás Féner).
In February György Weisz, head of the Vác Council, writes an article on the creation of a Photo-Technical Museum.
In 1984 the following appears in Hétfői Hírek ((Monday News) 18th July 1984): “Vác has been for over half a century the town of the photo-chemical industry. Before the liberation Kodak had a branch here..., nowadays it is Forte... That is why it has been decided on the initiative of Iván Kocsis, president of the Dunakanyar Photo-Club, to undertake the creation of a museum dedicated to the history of the technical evolution of photography. The Forte Factory supports the institution with two million forint and the city council donates one million forint, as well as providing a location for the unique Hungarian collection of industrial history.”
The issue n° 1-2 of the Historical Museum's Bulletin presents ten big Hungarian photographic collections; in the introduction István Katona states the necessity of the creation of a museum of art photography. In June the József Petzvál Photo-Historical Collection in Vác is inaugurated. But this isn't an independent museum either. It doesn't have a proper collection of its own and it depends on other institutions.
In February 1986 László Attila Erdélyi, president of FŐFOTÓ, offers to contribute towards the financial basis of the art photography museum.
In January 1987 the company OMKER proposes a 1000 m2 location in Budapest, at the corner of Arany János Street and Akadémia Street, but the MFSZ doesn't receive from the Ministry the 10 million forint necessary to buy it.
In July 1988 OMKER offers another location, this time a two-room flat in Budapest, at the corner of Ó Street and Bajcsy-Zsilinsky Road. The Ministry would have financed it up to 3 million forint.
In 1989 Ibolya Farkas Mohainé develops a project for her university diploma: a building for the Photo-Museum in Buda at the place of a four-storey derelict house between the Tunnel (Alagút) and the Castle's gardens (Várkert). The plans are still waiting to be completed.
In autumn in the “Studio 89” an interview is presented with István Katona, president of the MFSZ (Association of Hungarian Art Photographers) on the untenable state of the museum.
At the end of October István Gajdócsi, the president of the council of the Bács-Kiskun county, offers a location for the museum in Kecskemét: a romantic-style synagogue building that was first intended to be a puppet theatre, then a room for ceremonies. This historic building used to be an inn and was transformed into a synagogue in the 1920's.
In December 1990 the Hungarian Foundation of Photography is created. Besides MFSZ, its initiators and most important supporters are FŐFOTÓ, Fényképész Rt., the Ministry of Education and Culture, Reanal Fine Chemical Factory, Forte, Fuji Magyarország Kft. and Nikon Magyarország Kft.
On 13th September 1991 the technical handing over of the renovated building takes place.
In December the Hungarian Museum of Photography opens its doors under the direction of Károly Kincses.
The year after its opening, the director invited dr. Magdolna Kolta to carry out the deputy director position, in order to contribute to the functioning and to the scientific work of the museum. Due to their cooperation the initial number of the collection of the museum has been multiplied, as well as the inventory of the collection has been started. They published several lacking works on the theme of the Hungarian photography within the two collections launched by them.
Their collaboration ended with the death of dr. Magdolna Kolta on the 1st June 2005. After this period, and from the 1st January 2006, Péter Baki occupies the post of director of the museum.