The 150-year-old Museum of Applied Arts will open its doors again for 4 weeks, so that you can gain an insight into a quite unusual exhibition. Visitors will be able to view the Esterházy family’s damaged but restored treasures during the Turkish war, which also bear witness to the destruction caused by the war.
The Museum of Applied Arts, which has been closed since 2017 and is 150 years old this year, will open its doors to visitors again after five years, albeit only for a few weeks. This time, the building that is awaiting renovation is home to artefacts that are also waiting to be reborn. This somewhat unusual presentation is the 735th exhibition in the series of registered exhibitions of the museum founded in 1872.
The Esterházy treasury, which was created during the Turkish wars, grew from the 16th century through diplomatic gifts, dowries and conscious patronage of the arts. The castle of Fraknó in western Hungary, which was built on a rock and was further away from Turkish subjugation and battles, served as a place of guard for centuries. At the end of the 17th century, as part of the family trust, the ducal collection, which also included goldsmiths’ masterpieces made of noble and exotic materials, rare Far Eastern ceramics, and decorative Turkish weapons, became inalienable in the country. Among the latter, there are also spoils of war, since the Esterházy lords tried to prevent Turkish expansion not only in the field of diplomacy and politics, but also – taking up arms – on the battlefield.
However, the fate of this group of art treasures was not only influenced by the war in the past; the war events of the 20th century proved to be more decisive than ever before in the history of the collection. During the First World War, selected pieces from the treasury were transferred to the Museum of Applied Arts in Budapest, where, with the approval of the Dukes of Esterházy, they were displayed in the museum’s permanent exhibition between the two world wars.
In the last months of the Second World War, during the siege of Budapest, the family considered it safer to place the treasures in the Buda Castle, in the Esterházy Palace on Tárnok Street. However, fate and the war intervened: a few weeks later, the building was hit by a bomb, and the shattered remains of the treasury’s unique jewels were hidden under the ruins for years.
Some of the items were irretrievably destroyed; the remains were transported to the Museum of Applied Arts at the request of Duke Pál Esterházy. The fact that this tragic war event did not lead to the complete “destruction” of the treasury is solely due to the ongoing conservation and restoration work carried out in the restoration workshops of the museum, which is 150 years old this year.
Location: Museum of Applied Arts
Date: July 22-September 25
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Budapest, Iparművészeti Múzeum, Üllői út, MagyarországPrice
5500 Ft EUR