Hidden away in obscure corners of Budapest are museums covering all areas of human activity, from bizarre inventions to Franz Liszt’s piano. Here are ten of the best!
Ábrahám Ganz Foundry Collection
You do not have to be an iron manufacturer or a technical engineer – as Ábrahám Ganz, former captain of Hungary’s heavy industry, was – to have a marvellous time at this museum. Located on Bem József utca, the building used to be the foundry of Ganz Works. Purchase a ticket to travel back in time and immerse yourself in this impressive collection of casting machines and furnaces, and the things they produced, . lamps, car parts, plaques, even jewellery.
Renovated and reopened in 2017, the Bible Museum in District IX was founded by Danubian Reformed Church in its Ráday utca building, shortly before the fall of Communism. In addition to exhibiting old editions of the Bible, the museum takes visitors through the story of the Bible and its creation, along with educational artefacts.
Ferenc Hopp Museum of Asiatic Arts
A few minutes’ walk from Heroes’ Square, this museum is made up of temporary exhibitions illustrating Oriental works of art. It was founded by Ferenc Hopp, a wealthy and well-travelled art collector and optician. His villa on Andrássy út is also home to magnificent exotic artefacts he purchased during his treks around the globe.
Not far from the fire station in District X, the Firefighting Museum looks back the origins of this heroic rescue service to the present day. The exhibition space is filled with fascinating memorabilia, documents and miniatures. It’s entertaining even if it wasn’t the subject matter that drew you here. Unfortunately (warn the kids!), fire engines cannot be found here, but a similar museum in Újpest makes up for this shortfall, where visitors can even climb into these red behemoths, from various eras of firefighting history.
Franz Liszt Memorial Museum
After spending years abroad, Franz Liszt – the prolific Hungarian composer and virtuoso pianist – settled awhile in Budapest. The museum is in the building of the old Academy of Music on Vörösmarty utca, where Liszt himself used to live. The collection includes his original instruments, furniture and authentic memorabilia. Always a favourite of tourists when visiting Budapest.
Hospital in the Rock Nuclear Bunker Museum
This captivating and unique museum lies underneath the Castle District in its intricate cave system. The Hospital in the Rock – which opened in 1944 – was in constant use during the Siege of Budapest and the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. The exhibition commemorates the heroic work of doctors, nurses and volunteers of the secret underground hospital in the form of waxwork figures and mock-ups of how the place looked when conflict was raging overhead. It was also once used as a nuclear bunker just in case…
The Postal Museum once occupied an entire floor within a villa on Andrássy út, but a few years ago it moved to a stately edifice called the Benczúr House, located in District VI. Though messenger pigeons are not on display, visitors of the museum will find a Morse telegraph, various postal trucks, as well as an Ikea-style, fully furnished and authentic post office from the old days.
Semmelweis Museum of Medical History
The Semmelweis Museum of Medical History can be found by the Várkert Bazár on Apród utca, in the house where the renowned Hungarian doctor, Ignác Semmelweis, was born. Although this is the exact place where this medical legend once took his first steps, the exhibition is less so about him and more about the history of medicine and healing, and the development of medical science.
Technical Study Stores
One of the most unique exhibition spaces in Budapest is the Technical Study Stores, which has the bold ambition of collecting the most outstanding objects, inventions, prototypes, prints, models, miniatures and hidden historical treasures in Hungary’s great and colourful technological heritage. Open Thursdays through Saturdays.
Located on Szentlélek tér in Óbuda, the museum honours and celebrates the legacy of Victor Vasarely, a world-renowned kinetic and geometric abstract artist. Pécs-born Vasarely, who made his name in France, is also known for his pivotal role in the emergence of the op-art movement. After years of closure, this renovated museum finally reopened in 2017.