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    Collection of Baskets

    This collection of up to 1000 pieces was brought about as a result of special objectives of conservation. The pieces prepared from various kinds of raw plant materials can only be conserved under special circumstances.

    Function wise, they contain artefacts for foddering, chicken coops for guarding hatchlings; others to pick, weigh and carry agricultural products, such as fruit and potatoes; baskets for holding produce on people's backs; tools for conservation methods: baskets for drying as well as doormats for interior furnishing. We can also find some special pieces here, such as the 'ox hat' (ökörkalap), which protected the animals' neck in rainy weather from chafing, or various boots, which were worn in heavy frost.

    More than 50% of the basket collection was prepared from matting and hay, more than one third from wattle, and only an insignificant part from reeds, barks, roots or cornhusks. Objects of newer origin, prepared from metal and plastic, represent a special group. Baskets are significant parts of modern households as well. They are practical, cheap and represent a special part of past that survives even today.

    The curator of the collection is Dr. Zsuzsa Szarvas.

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    Pottery Collection

    At the last official count conducted on June 1, 2003, the Pottery Collection, one of the museum's largest, tallied a total of 23,759 objects.

    Despite its official title, the collection comprises not only pottery, but also various other silicate-based products made or used in the Carpathian Basin (Historical Hungary), including ceramic stove tiles (2150 items), factory-made earthenware and porcelain (1233 items), tin-glazed faience (about 1600 items), salt-glazed stoneware (about two dozen pieces), and glassware (about 500 items).

    Also belonging to the collection are 34 examples of what have been termed "patience bottles," miniature scenes, generally on the theme of mining, painstakingly assembled and displayed in a bottle. The greater part of the collection, however, consists of traditional works of pottery. The exact number of artefacts in the collection will only be known when the full audit begun in 2001 is finally completed.

    Work on the collection was started by the first director of the museum, János Xántus (with the help of Flóris Rómer), who personally collected items for an exhibition in Vienna in 1873. Another focus of these collectors was the assembling of material for the Ethnographic Village Exhibition on display during the Hungarian Millennial Celebrations in 1896. Most of the items collected for the exhibition later found their way into the storerooms of the Museum of Ethnography.

    Because most researchers tended to focus their investigations on the more exotic peripheral areas of historical Hungary, such as Transdanubia, Transylvania, and Northern Hungary (now Slovakia), the pottery centres of the Great Hungarian Plain in the centre of the country were not discovered until the 20th century. After World War II, collecting work was launched with renewed intensity, resulting in the addition of several hundred artefacts per year. It was during this period that Mária Kresz, avid collector, nationally recognised ethnographer and ceramics expert, and curator at the museum for almost 40 years, created the storage system still used today, based on a book co-written by Mária Igaz entitled A népi cserépedények szakterminológiája, or The Terminology of Folk Pottery. The system involves sorting items first by form and size, then by place of origin. Items are also stored in various ways depending on which method will best serve preservation of the object, while optimising the use of storage space.

    The curator of the collection is Dr. Gabriella Vida

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    Collection of Furniture and Lightening Instruments

    This collection comprises furniture from all areas of historical Hungary, including areas primarily populated by ethnic Hungarians, as well as other prominent ethnic groups (German, Serbian, Slovakian, Wendish Slav, etc.).

    Forming the basis of the collection are items of furniture collected by János Jankó (450 pieces) for the millennial exhibitions on industry, agriculture, and other topical areas, and the pieces collected by János Xántus for an exhibition in Vienna in 1873 and for the national exhibition in 1885. Most of these pieces were made new specifically for the exhibitions and were intended to illustrate typical products of rural cottage and small industry. In addition to newly made furniture, the collection included several hand-made wooden trunks and a 17th century painted chest from Komárom. Vintage lighting implements, primarily torch holders, were added to the collection by Ottó Herman as part of his endeavours to illustrate what he had termed the "Ősfoglalkozások" or "ancient occupations" of the Hungarian people.

    Between the two world wars many simple, functional items and decorative peasant furnishings were added to the collection. The efforts of collector Edit Fél in Martos in 1939 produced a complete set of furnishings from a single room.

    Systematic expansion of the collection was begun in 1947 under the direction of Klára K. Csilléry with the aim of providing a fair and complete picture of the Hungarian furniture-making industry. By documenting the products of workshops which had the greatest historical impact on the development of various styles, the museum was able to illustrate major trends and changes in the home furnishing industry. A series of artefacts collected from Debrecen, Hódmezővásárhely and Komárom, for example, illustrate the succession of stylistic changes that occurred between the second half of the 18th century and the end of the 19th century.

    Material from the smaller workshops of the 19th century, such as those of Derecske, Fadd, and Kalocsa, illustrate how the influence of major centres for carpentry spread across the country. In addition to painted furniture, the collection includes series of objects illustrating how styles changed over time, including those associated with inlaid furniture from the region north of Lake Balaton, carved-backed chairs from Transdanubia, trellis-work furniture of the Palóc region, and wooden chests from areas all over Hungary, the earliest ones dating from the 14th-16th centuries.

    Of the various collections of items related to home furnishing and interior decoration, many serve to demonstrate social differences and changes in culture. Outstanding examples in this regard include the collections from Bodony, Tiszaigar, Dunapataj, Szakmár, Harta, Vértesacsa, Hódmezővásárhely, and Sárköz. Efforts conducted in the last decade have added material illustrating trends in 20th century interior decoration, focusing on locations such as Mezőkövesd, Uszód, Sárpilis, and Dunabogdány.

    The present furniture and lighting collection comprises a total of 4,719 pieces, all of which have their permanent home at the museum's storage facility in Törökbálint. Items are organised into various categories: vessels and objects used for storage, seating, children's furniture, beds, lighting implements, mirrors, clocks, objects used in interior decoration, etc. According to statistics produced by Gábor Fejér, counties from which the greatest number of pieces have been taken include: Tolna (Sárköz, 340), Heves (Palóc furniture, 250), Borsod (Mezőkövesd and Miskolc, 227), Csongrád (Hódmezővásárhely, 168), Veszprém (Veszprém and surrounding areas, 165), Nógrád (Palóc furniture, 161), and Kolozs (Kalotaszeg, 133).

    The curator of the collection is Margit Kiss.

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    Nutrition Collection

    When museum experts organise a body of artefacts into official collections, categories are defined based on the materials of which they are fashioned and the functions they serve. The Nutrition Collection may be seen as an odd assemblage of the leftovers of this process, since it comprises food processing, serving, conservation, and storage items made of materials not included in any other collection.

    It thus contains no ceramics or textiles, since artefacts made of these materials have each been placed in a separate collection. At the same time, because it is often difficult to delineate between various groups of objects on the basis of functionality, many items clearly related to food and diet have also been placed in other collections. What can be said of the artefacts in the collection is that they are all related to the traditional nutritional culture of the various religious, ethnic, and social groups living in Hungarian-speaking territories. The backbone of the collection is formed of objects related to archaic cooking processes. Thus, one finds not only the usual utensils of cooking and baking here, but also implements used around the fire, including a very special clockwork-driven spit-turning apparatus. Among groups of objects organised by function, the foremost are those of food preparation, storage, and consumption. In terms of materials, the collection includes objects made of metal or wood, from simple wooden implements, to caps, plates, and other table setting items made of tin, indicating the presence of a developed metallurgical industry.

    The curator of the collection is Dr. Zsuzsa Szarvas.

     

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