In the year of the millennium in 1896, a grand exhibition was organised in Budapest, in Városliget. In the pavilions erected in the park, Hungary had the chance to introduce itself to the world: in 240 pavilions objects, creations, and products exclusively of Hungarian origin were presented. They intended to give a full picture of past and present by collecting the traditions of Hungary, and all the results achieved in the field of culture and science. The field of transport also belonged here, as group No 10 of the millennial exhibition. The audience of the end of the century paid great attention to the items collected with meticulous deliberation. Thus, the organisers decided to keep the valuable collection together, and to establish a permanent museum in order to keep and develop the selection further. The thought was not quite new since after the 1885 National Exhibition there was a similar attempt to create a railway museum. In 1896 – similarly – the organisers wanted to establish a railway museum.
The millennium Transport Hall was designed by Ferenc Pfaff MÁV-supervisor, and similarly to other pavilions, it was built to be temporary; however, after the museum was built, it was continuously developed into a permanent building. The pavilion – which was one of the most compelling ones on the 1896 exhibition – was built in a romantic-eclectic style. The diameter of its dome was 26 meters, while its height reached 67 meters. Its 3100 square meter exhibition space hosted the most important objects of railway, shipping and water construction, post, and telegraph office. Beside vehicles, parts, décor objects, and several models, photographs, maps, drawings, and tickets presented the development of Hungarian transportation – completed by international material.
The main spokesman of the creation of the Transport Museum was Kajetán Banovits. Due to his persistent work Baron Ernő Dániel, Minister for Commerce, gave permission to establish the museum, which opened on the 1st of May in 1899. The collection was developed continuously, while – in the meantime – the Hungarian and international machines and models of aviation were also given place in the building. However, the lack of space had shortly become obvious, several plans were born to extend the museum, and to shift its location next to the Budapest University of Technology and Economics. However, due to restricted financial resources and the two world wars impeded these concepts.
Nearing to the end of World War II., in 1944, two bombs hit the museum, creating serious damages in the building and in the collection. The fate of the collection was pending for long years but enthusiastic colleagues did everything to preserve it. It was only decided at the end of the 50s that the ruined building would be renewed. The dome – although statically not justified – was demolished, and the museum was re-built in a more modest way, according to the taste of the age. The Transport Museum re-opened its gates on 2nd April in 1966.
The preparation of the new permanent exhibition also indicated that the museum wishes to be more than just a preserver of objects and artefacts but it also wishes to become a centre for transport history research. This noble decision has prevailed ever since: the museum offers the most up-to-date researches to professional and public audiences with its temporary and permanent exhibitions and publications.
In 1971 the Museum of Transport received the national museum status. The institute expanded with more and more member institutes from the 70s on, finally, the central building of the museum was extended with a new exhibition building in 1987.
According to a 2009 decision, the Museum of Transport and the Hungarian Museum for Science and Technology merged, thus a number significant exhibition spaces of the Hungarian national industrial and technological heritage got under the wing of one institute, this way calling The Hunagrian Museum of Science, Technology and Transport to life. Under the auspices of of this institute do our member institutions operate today – the Ábrahám Ganz Foundry Collection, the Museum of Electrical Engineering, the Technical Study Stores, the Metallurgical Collection in Miskolc, the Museum of Chemistry in Várpalota, and the Museum of Aluminum Industry in Székesfehérvár.
Based on the decision made by the Hungarian Government, the Northern Maintenance Hall will give home to the new Museum of Transport. The historically significant building in Kőbánya, Budapest is particularly fitting for the purposes of the new Museum. This marvellous industrial building has functioned as a maintenance hall for the Hungarian State Railways, repairing diesel locomotives, freight cars and passenger coaches for more than 140 years. “This decision has reassuringly settled the question concerning the new location of the Museum of Transport, and our efforts to settle this matter seem to have reached their goal. According to the objectives set out in 2016, and through the decision of the Government delivered at the end of December 2017, the Museum of Transport has now received a vision befitting its 120-year-old history, and will be worthy of it for the next hundred years as well” – said Dávid Vitézy, General Director of the Museum of Transport.
One of the oldest technological and transport historical museums of Europe is being renewed, however, our visitors can select among many exhibition places until the the handover of the new building, which welcome the fans of transport, technology, and industrial heritage uninterruptedly.
For information concerning the renewal of the Museum of Transport, our programmes, and exhibitions, please, browse our new website or follow us on Facebook!