The Hungarian National Museum announced its first regular opening hours 200 years ago

MúzeumCafé 25.

In the history of the Hungarian National Museum the year 1811 is particularly important. From the initial establishment of the museum in 1802 to its actual functioning many years had to pass and in that process an important stage was marked on 30 June 1811 with the introduction of the museum’s first official opening hours. Among the National Museum’s later departments, the Széchényi National Library was the first to give access to the public, on 20 August 1803. The collection was open every day for three hours in the morning and again for three in the afternoon. It was based in the Pauline monastic house in Pest, in what was the main library of the later central seminary. The premises also functioned as a reading room. The majority of readers were public servants and professionals. Following the library, the coin and medal collection was made accessible for researchers and the general public, and then organising the collection of minerals began in the same year. Thanks to a donation made by Antal Grassalkovich in 1808, the National Museum had a building plot at its disposal. There was a shortage of money but something had to be done about storing the collections, since the building housing the museum was in a terrible condition. The Diet of 1811 failed to deal with the museum matter “being concerned with more important national affairs”. So for the time being the museum remained in the former university building in today’s Egyetem Square and its ever expanding collections continued to be open to the public. The number of visitors grew to such an extent that it became necessary to organise proper opening hours and so on 1 April 1811 the National Museum incorporated them into its statutes.