A Journey through the Photographic Treasures of Hungarian Museums

About the Exhibition

Photographs of the exhibition were selected from the photography collections of eight country-side museums; we brought them here to Budapest in order to provide the experience of embarking on a journey through and by the images for all as they please.

The exhibit can be mapped through the intersecting points of geographical coordinates on a time axis. It can be described as one single imprint of the oeuvre or as a story of one remaining image by over fifty well-known, fairly known or up until now unknown, somewhat mysterious artists. It can be understood as the series of photographs created with different photographic processes of various eras; or it can also be conceived of as the series of moments recorded from our public and private histories. Also, one may look at the exhibition as the constellation of all the above with much room for further interpretations.

Changing locations – getting from one place to another - is a common feature of all travels. It entails the departure, the arrival, and everything before and after: the preparations, and then cherishing the memories in reality and in our hearts later.

Browsing and walking through the exhibition you get to see the world from Constantinople (today’s Istanbul, Turkey) to Szigetbecse, Hungary and travel through many generations between 1864 and 1994. You can see unbound explorations that set out to conquer pinnacles and obligate departures that set out to fulfill duties; also, you are witness to transforming conveyance, as well as inner, spiritual progressions.

We, however, need to keep in mind that this exhibition is only a fragment as there are many more important and special photographs in aforementioned collections. Also, we have to understand that entering a museum’s archive is a real gift as it entails the experience of research and discovery, or the ponderings on moments of the past enclosed in photography.

Gabriella Csizek curator

Something for the road


The title’s journey is a collective term. It can refer to a journey in space, in time, in real or virtual form. One may also be traveling in an armchair with their eyes closed or while riding a horse. You may take the plane or a wagonette. As you please.

A journey encompasses multiple elements. It entails dreamy ponderings, planning, preparations, departure, the act of traveling itself, and observation, along with the actual arrival and remembering as well. Each phase can be just as concrete as abstract; each moment can be practical, completed, or spiritual, emotional, perhaps intellectual – to each according to their taste and imagination.

This journey through the old photographs selected from the collections of country-side museums results in even more complex, even more elaborate constellations. If you want to, you can pick a boat, a train, or a car from the photos mounted on the wall and embark on your journey like that. If you want to, you can crawl back almost 150 years in time and encounter with people, houses, trees, and crafts that, by now, are deceased, torn down, dead, or extinct. As such, you will experience an encounter with history. And, if you want to, you can examine old photographic processes and engage with masters of past times. These photographers had known their craft like today’s photographers may barely even get a grasp of. Thus, if you want to, you can travel through the history of photography as well.

Also, you can travel with your mind and impose your own memories, or ones that you have seen or read about, upon any of the exhibited photos and see how internally eddying fancies and ideas are materialized as real photographs.

One thing is for sure: those who enter and purchase their tickets will become passengers of a long and very intricate journey. Bon voyage!

Károly Kincses, curator

Summer of 2012, the Hungarian House of Photography organized the first edition of its exhibition series titled Rarely seen photographs. The exhibited photos were selected from the collection of the Hungarian Museum of Photography of Kecskemét. With this initiative, we intended to showcase items from Hungarian photographic collections that, unfortunately, rarely reach the public.

Following the success of the 2010 exhibition, we were determined to continue with the series. In 2012, we exhibit rarely seen master-pieces from public collections of country-side museums. We would like to draw attention to Hungarian photography and valuable Hungarian photo collections that preserve our outstanding artistic heritage. We would like to demonstrate that we can be proud of photography – the genre whose history cannot be told without Hungarian photographers, those who emigrated and those who stayed. We would like to present the predecessors’ example to younger generations of photographers. Furthermore, we would like to highlight the precious photographic collections of country-side museums, as well as emphasize the great quality of work carried out by professionals working at the country-side museums.

Artistic collaborations of the House, Gabriella Csizek and Károly Kincses curators browsed and looked at thousands of photographs over the last few months before they selected the almost 200 hundred items for the exhibition.

Our exhibition is a journey that leads visitors through real and imaginary landscapes via the photographs, allowing them to explore events or places distant in time, space, or in their abstractions. The summer season especially welcomes such adventures since, besides the concrete activity of traveling, our exhibition explores notions of longing and the experience of arrivals.
World-famous Hungarian photographers, like André Kertész, Brassaï, Martin Munkácsi and László Moholy-Nagy, are just as present as the lesser known great ones – like Angelo, Kata Kálmán, József Pécsi, or Ernő Vadas. Furthermore, our show exhibits many unknown photographers whose work deems attention with their at times surprising but definitely unique perspectives.

Exhibited photographs represent many different techniques and styles. We find ferrotypes, pigment prints, albumen prints, gelatin silver prints, as well as Polaroid transfers. Photos are dated between 1864 (Unknown: Boarding school) and 1994 (István Soltész: My connections with the outside world I 1994/2010). Both photos are from the collection of Jósa András Museum, Nyíregyháza.

Various forms of travels, different destinations, landscapes, cities, and people appear in front of our eyes as we look at the streets, shops, and faces that are now only recorded in these photographs. There are real treasures among the exhibited pieces:
Atmosphere of past travels or historical events are evoked on the photos of important sights or historical events taken by locals: the repatriation of Rákóczi’s (leader of the Hungarian uprising against the Hapsburgs in 1703-22; Prince of Transylvania) bones or the arrival of Ernő Gerő (first secretary of the Hungarian Communist Party after WWII and briefly in 1956) on his airplane to inaugurate autobuses (Déri Museum – Debrecen).
Portraits of a small town were taken by Vilmos Vadász pharmacists in the 1930’s (Báthori István Múzeum – Nyírbátor).
Captain Johann Eilingsfeld’s heritage brings back the idyll of boat cruises on the Danube (Janus Pannonius Museum – Pécs).
Charles IV, the last Hungarian king and Queen Zita’s visit to Szeged is also recorded for eternity (Szent István Király Museum – Székesfehérvár).
Also, different vehicles of yesteryears, such as a royal armored train, a Danube steamship, and Szeged’s first car (Móra Ferenc Museum – Szeged) represent our past modes of transportation.
Courtesy of the Hungarian Museum of Photography (Kecskemét), our world-famous photographers are also exhibited. Photos by Brassaï, Martin Munkácsi, László Moholy-Nagy, József Pécsi, Kata Kálmán, or Angelo show us the world as they saw it during their travels at home or abroad.
Courtesy of the André Kertész Photography Museum of Szigetbecse, our selection also includes 10 André Kertész photos.

On the one hand, the exhibition Rarely seen photographs – A journey through the photographic treasures of Hungarian museums brings treasures somewhat hidden in the country-side to Budapest. At the same time, it also encourages all to visit museums in the country-side more often as our show only showcases only a fragment of what still rests in boxes – waiting for the moment to be introduced to the greater public again.

Exhibited artists
André KERTÉSZ, Angelo, BRASSAÏ, BRASSAY Zoltán, CSÉPÁNY Jenő, FEKETE Gáborné, GLOVICZKY József, Gondy és Egey, HARNÓCZY Örs, HUNYADY László, Johann EILINGSFELD, KABÁCZY Szilárd, KÁLMÁN Kata, LÁNG Erzsébet, Martin MUNKÁCSI, MOHOLY-NAGY László, MÜLLER Miklós, Otto KAGERMANN, PÉCSI József, PRIBÉK Antal, TAKÁCS Vince, VADAS Ernő and others.

Participating museums
André Kertész Fotómúzeum és Emlékház (André Kertész Photography Museum) – Szigetbecse • Báthori István Múzeum – Nyírbátor • Déri Múzeum – Debrecen • Janus Pannonius Múzeum – Pécs • Jósa András Múzeum – Nyíregyháza • Magyar Fotográfiai Múzeum – Kecskemét • Móra Ferenc Múzeum – Szeged • Szent István Király Múzeum - Székesfehérvár

The exhibition is on view between JUNE 21 – SEPTEMBER 16, 2012 in the Hungarian House of Photography (1st and 2nd floor exhibition halls).

List od the exhibited images [PDF]

Hungarian House of Photography – Mai Manó House
1065 Budapest, Nagymező u. 20.
Tel.: 06 1 473 2666; 06 30 505 0455