1st Central-European Architectural Magazine for the Culture of the Environment

New Museum of Ethnography Budapest

Photo: Incze László

New Architecture / Piranesi 48/49

New Museum of Ethnography Budapest

NAPUR Architect

Museum of Ethnography, part of Budapest City Park

by Emiel Lamers

With NAPUR Architect’s powerful design, the ethnographic collection is back in Budapest City Park.

Photo: Incze László

Since May 2022, the Museum of Ethnography has been back in its original location where it first started more than a century ago. After its establishment in 1872, the first collection of the museum was shown in Budapest City Park during the 1896 celebrations as part of the National Millennium Exhibition. The collection was then housed for many years in the Industrial Hall, also located in City Park. After that, from 1975 until 2022, for almost half a century, the museum was located in the former Palace of Justice, just opposite Parliament. However, as this grand structure was not intended as a museum, it was far from suitable for its function.

Photo: Incze László

The relocated museum is now part of “Liget Budapest”, a new museum quarter in the city’s oldest public park – Városligetm, or City Park. The plans for Liget Budapest feature the total renovation of the park, the reconstruction of some historic buildings, and the construction of new buildings for both new and old cultural institutions. In 2014, three architectural open design competitions were held for the design of the new public buildings in the park. The Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto won the competition for the House of Music, which opened its doors at the beginning of 2022. The Hungarian office of KÖZTI Architects & Engineers won the competitions for the Photo Museum Budapest and Museum of Hungarian Architecture. KÖZTI designed two boxes located on both sides of the memorial to the 1956 Revolution. The competition for the Museum of Ethnography was initially won by the French architects Vallet de Martinis together with DIID architectes. They made a plan for a straightforward white building on columns located on the southernmost corner of City Park. Not long after this competition, however, the government decided to change the masterplan of the Liget Budapest project. The planned Ethnographic Museum was thus moved further north to ’56-ers Square, on the former location of the Photo and Architecture Museums, and so a new competition had to be organized. After the first round, 15 offices were selected, among them renowned names such as OMA from the Netherlands, BIG from Denmark and Zaha Hadid Architects from the UK. After the second round in May 2016, the proposal from the Hungarian NAPUR Architect studio was announced the winner, with Marcel Ferencz as the project architect.

Photo: Incze László

The new location of the museum is not unknown to regular readers of Piranesi, as in issue  #32 we wrote quite extensively about the former Trade Union Building opposite the square. The square is located at the end of Városligeti Fasor (City Park Lane), where the traditional May 1st parades were held during socialist times. After 1990, the location became a huge parking lot for more than 1,500 cars. In 2006, after a design competition, a steel wedge was placed in the square as a monument to the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and War of Independence.

Photo: Incze László

Project Data

New Museum of Ethnography, Budapest, Hungary

Budapest, Városliget, Ötvenhatosok tere

Architecture firm
Napur Architect LtD.

Principal architect
Marcel Ferencz

Városliget Zrt., Gyorgyevics Benedek (the ceo of Városliget Zrt)
Kemecsi Lajos, the director of the Museum of Ethnography
Baán László, the project’s ministerial commissioner

Design team
György Détári, Gergely Filó, Pál Holyba, Dávid Nyul, Csaba Grócz

Interior design
Czakó Építész Ltd.

Support structure
Exon 2000 Ltd. Szántó László

Building engineering
HVarC Ltd. Lucz Attila

Garten Studio Ltd.

General contractor
ZÁÉV Építőipari Zrt., Magyar Építő Zrt.

Built area
33,000 m²

Site area
100,000 m²

Design year

Completion year