Lawyer and cultural diplomat

Henriett Galambos, head of department, Museum of Fine Arts

Henriett Galambos heads the Legal and Registration Department at the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest. She grew up in Szeged, though it was a scholarship in England that made her realize what she was really interested in. At the age of 17 she spent a year in a boarding school in the south of England where four subjects, including art history, were taught at a higher level. “I decided to study art history at university, but my parents asserted that I ought to become a lawyer and then I could do what I wanted.” She was always a good student and graduated in law at Szeged University, but she did not really feel at home there. However, she visited museums throughout the years. “I became the first lawyer in Hungary to specialize in museums,” she says about the beginning. Since this type of job had no traditions in Hungary, museums always commissioned external legal offices to perform certain tasks, thus Henriett Galambos first worked for the museum on contract and only later got a full-time job. Today thirteen people are employed in her department, including four lawyers and registrars. A pair of a lawyer and a registrar works on the incoming and outgoing exhibitions. The role of the registrar, who can be a graduate of law, economy or art history, has been shaped in Britain and the US. While organising an exhibition, apart from legal matters, the registrar is in charge of all administrative duties, insurance and keeping in touch with the loaning museum. Both lawyer and registrar play a vital role in organising an exhibition. It is interesting that only women have been employed in the team in recent years – is that perhaps due to women being more intuitive? Henriett Galambos regards it as a great achievement that last year the jobs of museum lawyer and registrar were officially acknowledged as independent professions.