“The spirit of Szerencs resides in the castle”

Museum of the Year special award for the Zemplén Museum

MúzeumCafé 37.

While the majority of museums in small communities are strugg-ling with limitations to their independence and increasingly difficult financial circumstances, it seems that the Zemplén Museum in Szerencs is in a relatively good position. The town authorities regard the museum as important and thus did not want to ‘let it go’ during the changes to the county museum network. The institute’s new funding body, the local authority, supports all its plans. Last year it was awarded a special prize of the Hungarian Museums’ Association and the Hungarian National Committee of ICOM. The citation referred to its new permanent exhibition installed with state-of-the-art means and the collection’s digitization. Yet it was a long road to success. Today the former Rákó-czi Castle in Szerencs houses the museum. Its predecessor was established in 1968 when the art collector László Petrikovits donated his collection of several thousand picture postcards and books to the town. The huge documentary archive of one million picture postcards is unique in Europe. The first permanent exhibition was based on this collection and was processed manually. Today much has changed. The exhibition has been renewed, in the course of which digitization of the collection began and thanks to that the Zemplén Museum won the Museum of the Year special award in 2012. Digitization was undertaken in partnership with Arcanum. The project includes several museums, including the Museum of Hungarian Commerce and Catering, the National Széchényi Library and the Hungarian National Museum. To date 190,000 postcards have been digitized, both front and back. The Zemplén Museum has joined the Ministry of National Resources’ Alfa Programme, which supports museums funded by local authorities.