Ernst Museum

Nagymező u. 8.
+36 (1) 341-4355


Műcsarnok is the definitive exhibition gallery in Hungary for the contemporary arts. Conceived on the model of the German Kunsthalles, the neo-Renaissance building was erected in 1896, for the country’s Millennial celebrations.

Our mission is to mediate, present and influence Hungarian and international trends and phenomena in the contemporary visual arts. At five to six major exhibitions annually – including many that are groundbreaking in the East-Central European region (Luc Tuymans’ Retrospective; The Leipzig Phenomenon, What’s Up? – A panorama of Contemporary Hungarian Art; Thomas Ruff’ Retrospective; Mi Vida – Heaven and Hell – The MUSAC’s collection in Budapest) – we present renowned local and foreign contemporary artists.

We want to make Műcsarnok an active meeting point and creative centre for contemporary culture and art that deals with the cultural and social environment.

As a progressive exhibition gallery, we not only try to bring to our audience artistic propositions that are relevant and interesting, but also make every effort to provide our viewers with modern and exciting facilities that enable the in-depth exploration of our displays.

While we find it particularly important to reach young people, the “contemporaries of the future,” we seek to find open-minded, receptive individuals across all generations who are interested in new occurrences in culture and the visual arts.

We also shape the exhibition programme of Ernst Museum and Dorottya Gallery, which are now part of Műcsarnok, in this spirit: the former hosts projects – thematic solo and group exhibitions – that reflect on the social and urban environment quickly and flexibly, while the latter specializes in presenting promising young talents, beside well-established artists. (From:

A private collector, Lajos Ernst, a well-known figure of Budapest society, founded the Ernst Museum in 1912 at the time, with the aim of making his artistic and historic collection accessible to the general public. The institute was founded as a result of this intention to patronise the arts and, during the last century, it became one of the most significant exhibition spaces for 20th century Hungarian visual arts.

The architect Gyula Fodor in Art Nouveau style built the Ernst Museum in 1912. The building, now listed as a historic monument, originally had a cinema on the ground floor, which is now used by the Budapest Chamber Theatres’ Tivoli Theatre. The first floor housed the private collection and was open as a museum; above it are two floors of private flats and the top floor consists of artist’ studios.

Special care was taken over the designing of the museum space. The entrance is adorned with copies of renaissance relief portraits of King Mattheus, patron of the arts, and his wife. The black marble seats on the staircase were designed by architect Ödön Lechner and the patterns on the walls, originally painted in different colours, by applied artist Elek Falus. Falus also designed the row of small interior coloured windows, while the large window was conceived by the painter József Rippl-Rónai.

As a collector, Lajos Ernst was interested in old as well as modern Hungarian fine art, applied art and architecture and was guided in his museum by his wish to show the continuity of Hungarian art. Besides the permanent exhibition, he also organized temporary ones, showing the work of his most outstanding contemporaries (such as Paul Szinyei Merse for the museum opening) and using material from private collections at home and abroad. (Gedeon Gerlóczy’s Csontváry paintings were first shown here in 1930.) He also organized readings and musical programmes – for Béla Bartók among others – and published artists’ monographs. From 1917, Ernst also organised auctions which made him and his work a reputation abroad.

After the death of Lajos Ernst (1937) the uniquely rich and professionally treated collection was sold in 1939. After the Second World War in 1950, Ernst’s former museum was attached to the galleries and provided a space for occasional contemporary art exhibitions.

The most important and historic exhibition space apart from the Budapest Kunsthalle, the Ernst Museum has joined with another historic gallery, the Dorottya Gallery and on the occasion of the millennium year 2000, they are recognised as one institute. The institute has been established by the Ministry of National Cultural Heritage as a public service company.

The aim of the Ernst Museum is to be a memorial to Lajos Ernst, its founder, not just in name but also in the traditions he established.

Today, without a permanent collection, the institute’s thinking and objectives are twofold.

On the one hand it wishes to organize exhibitions, based on research into art history, which show the richness of modern Hungarian art and architecture from new viewpoints and also outstanding but lesser known oeuvres and collections. It would like to complement the exhibitions with other art events or auctions, which can raise the value of certain works, precisely because of the context of art history in which they are exhibited.

On the other, it would like to explore the primarily Central European connections of Hungarian art and also to introduce other Central European collections.

A new feature will be that the works exhibited at both places will occasionally be for sale.


I had a great experience at the Ernst Museum. First, they really seem to support artists and educators. As such, ask for a discount on the admission price. In addition to reduced admission, the gentleman behind the counter said I could take all the photos I would like and was welcome to take a catalog of the current show: The Derkovits Fellowship Awardees. The space itself is situated on the second floor. When you walk in, you have little choice but to ascend a flight of stairs with a beautiful stained glass window. The Museum is fairly small, but had enough space to exhibit quite a few artists, in this show, perhaps as many as 25. Some of the works included are quite successful, other are not. The entire exhibition has a youthful, exploratory feel. The organization that operates the museum, Műcsarnok, seems to be very open to providing burgeoning contemporary artists working in a variety of media with a voice and the tools they need to succeed.

Cartographer A

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