European Architectural Sculpture. Visible Storage

National Museum Conservation and Storage Centre, 1135, Budapest, Szabolcs street 33-35. - from May 2023

A Selection from the Cast Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts

The visible storage is planned to welcome individual visitors from June 2023. In May, only group visits with a guided tour in Hungarian will be available. For more information, please visit our website regularly. For professional visits, please contact to make an appointment.

As a result of a project to restore the plaster cast collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, the collection is now on display in two locations: at the visible storage of the National Museum Conservation and Storage Centre in Budapest and the Star Fortress in Komárom.

The renovated Csillagerőd in Komárom houses copies of almost 300 large-scale ancient, medieval, and Renaissance sculptures. Another part of the collection is displayed as a visible storage in the National Museum Conservation and Storage Centre, Budapest. Copies of over 300 ancient, medieval, and Renaissance works can be studied here related to architectural sculpture. A large section provides an overview of archaic, classical and late classical sculptures, reliefs, and architectural elements associated with ancient Greek sanctuaries and temples. The other part of the exhibition represents later periods including copies of some Hungarian works alongside statues and architectural elements from French and German medieval cathedrals, as well as the Renaissance cathedrals of Italy.

The nineteenth century was the golden age of museum founding. As part of their efforts to make art accessible to as wide a public as possible, museologists presented the history of sculpture using plaster copies of well-known works, leading to the establishment of cast collections and plaster casting workshops in Europe and North America. The concept of a cast collection was first initiated in Hungary by Ferenc Pulszky, who, on becoming director of the Hungarian National Museum in 1869, began collecting casts of ancient sculptures. The first copies of Hungarian works of art were produced a few years later.

After founding of the Museum of Fine Arts in 1896, the National Museum’s casts were transferred to the new institution, where, adding to the casts of archaic and classical statuary, replicas of further ancient, medieval, and Renaissance works were acquired. The casts were housed on the ground floor of the museum building that opened in Heroes’ Square in 1906. From 1913, ancient, medieval, and Renaissance replicas were displayed chronologically, and plaster casts were even placed above the museum’s Greek temple-style main entrance: the tympanum features a copy of the west pediment of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia, depicting the battle of the Centaurs and Lapiths. From the 1920s, cast collections gradually fell from favour, and during and after World War II the casts were removed from the galleries and placed in storage, where they were subject to decades of neglect, with neither protection, nor conservation.

Curators of the Classical Antiquities section of the exhibition: Géza Andó, Marianna Dági, Eszter Süvegh

Curator of the Medieval and Renaissance section of the exhibition: Miriam Szőcs
Assistants to the curator in the Medieval and Renaissance section: Zsófia Vargyas, Márton Tóth

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