The external visual plans of the new Museum of Ethnography, which is slated to be built on the edge of Budapest’s City Park, were first presented to the public back in May. The proposed building’s curved shape and grassy roof is intended to make it blend into the landscape, and has the appearance of an innovative showcase for historic Magyar culture. Since then, the plans for the functionally sleek interior areas were also finished and recently revealed, and they include a café with a terrace, a library with a panoramic view through its glass walls, a movie theater, and a children’s museum.
The new Museum of Ethnography is planned to move from Kossuth Square to the place that is currently a parking lot by Felvonulási Square. Most of the museum will be below the ground, and the green, sloping roof promises to provide a harmonic relationship between the park and the building. According to the museum director, Dr. Lajos Kemecsi, the functions of the interior won’t see any more changes, but as the mechanical clarification is still in progress, the plans remain semiofficial for now; the complete construction plans will be finished by the end of 2017. Napur Architect, a Hungarian architectural firm, cooperated with the museum when they designed the interior layout of the two-story building, which will be partially sunken below the ground, and its curved roof will divide the museum into two larger sections.Museum and visitor center on the ground floorUpon entering from the direction of the Kunsthalle, guests will be at the general visitor center of City Park. Tour buses will also arrive here, and tickets for every unit of the museum district, from the Circus to the New National Gallery, will be available here. They’re also planning to install a food court here that will represent at least five different national cuisines, from Asian to South American to African – these will be presented in an ethnically authentic way with the help of all the background knowledge from the Museum of Ethnography. The other side will be the official entrance of the museum, with information desks, ticket booths, offices, and a press room. Guests can walk through the ground floor on its entire length, while a gradually widening, imposing staircase will invite them into the basement.
Underground museumDirectional lighting is especially important for exhibits, so nowadays it’s uncommon to build museums with natural lighting in the exhibition areas; this is why the permanent and temporary exhibitions of the Museum of Ethnography will be in the basement. The former will have more than 2,500 square meters available instead of the 1,200 it has now at Kossuth Square, while the latter will receive 3,000 square meters instead of the 1,500 it currently has. Before buying tickets to any of these viewing areas, as we walk down the staircase that invites us into the basement, we can admire a spectacular exhibit from the museum’s ceramics collection, which has tens of thousands of objects, with modern information panels showing all necessary information about these art pieces. If we are interested in the history of a certain vase, we can learn everything about it from the touch-screen, whether it’s about its function, or about the reason behind its white painting to keep away the hexes of witches. At the bottom of the stairs we can decide if we want to visit the exhibitions, or walk out to City Park. According to plans, a movie theater showing anthropological films and documentaries will be built here, in addition to the professional spaces, photo-restoration workshop, and emergency restoration units.
Only two floorsFortunately, the museum won’t be ostentatiously high, so it won’t block out a segment of City Park. The right side of the first floor will be the museum’s staff level, featuring offices, meeting rooms, and a small terraced café, which will also be available for those who walk up through the green hill created by the roof. On the same floor, but on the Kunsthalle side of the building, will be Hungary’s only children’s museum, with exhibitions designed for kids, an outdoor playground with an inner and outer terrace, and a hall built in a “night at the museum” style, where kids can sleep (or stay awake) in various types of international beds, like South American hammocks, during an overnight field trip. The goal of the children’s museum is to amaze kids with something other than technology and the virtual world, because, as director Lajos Kemecsi said, ordinary life will do that for them anyway.
The second floor is occupied by the research area and the library with glass walls, and a reading room with a panoramic view over the park, while the event and conference area – with its interconnecting rooms and about 300 seats – will be on the other side of the floor. This area will also have a terrace; with a view on the park, it will be also accessible from the outside.
The Museum of Ethnography is currently located at Kossuth Square within the former Palace of Justice, which is not the most ideal location for a museum’s functions. The Curia of Hungary will return to this location, while the museum will close down and start the moving process at the end of next year. If all goes according to plan, it will be 2019 before this building is completed, particularly because the plans are not to grow “token greenery” here; they will have up to six meters of depth to install soil at certain spots, which means that even seven trees will be planted in addition to the bushes and the grass patches.