Overview of Hungarian art data repositories

The end of 2017 saw new regulatory changes in the Hungarian museum sphere. Ministerial decree 2/2010 (I. 14) on operating licences was replaced by governmental decree 376/2017 (XII. 11) stipulating new requirements. While it had been mandatory for museums to set up data repositories, the new regulation provides an exact definition for its content and function. It is stated that a museum data repository constitutes the paper-based, textual, visual, audio and digital reports, documentation, exhibition scripts, manuscripts, archive correspondences pertaining to cultural assets preserved in the given institution, and its function is also to preserve the documents and press materials relevant to the institution’s history. Data repositories can also be set up according to special branches of museology: for example, an art history data repository can be established in museums with fine art collections. In the digital discipline, however, the broad definition of a data repository is  the physical and virtual collections preserving the materials of special areas; these include fine art and art history data repositories.

If a museum collects artefacts documenting the history of Hungarian and foreign fine arts, its database is clearly an art history data repository. The largest such data repository is maintained by the Hungarian National Gallery

The Museum of Fine Arts makes its collection accessible and searchable in Hungarian and English directly on its homepage. Moreover, the institution built an English language database of the holdings of its Department of Prints and Drawings and continuously augments it with new items. Only a few of the Hungarian art collections smaller than those of the Hungarian National Gallery and the Museum of Fine Arts operate a traditional museum data repository or, alas, a digital database.

The exhibitor of contemporary art, the Műcsarnok, kicked off its National Salon exhibition series in 2014 and made the works uploaded by the participant artists of the Fine Arts National Salon 2015 accessible on its digital repository called Tár.hely.

Besides the digital data repositories and databases of fine arts created by museums, ones not linked to concrete institutions or collections can also be found. Early examples include, for example, the Soros Foundation Fine Arts Documentation Center, which the foundation launched in 1985 as the institution for its contemporary art programme with its primarily task being to build up the documentation on contemporary Hungarian artists and set up an art data repository.

At variance with the above examples is one of Hungary’s most extensive Hungarian art history data repositories, which was established in 1969 in the academic research institute then called the Art History Research Team.

The most significant online databases in Hungary are Képzőművészet Magyarországon (Fine Arts in Hungary) and Artportal.