The Museum of Applied Arts is a masterpiece of Hungarian Art Nouveau, built between 1893 and 1896 to plans by Ödön Lechner and Gyula Pártos.
Lechner created a national architectural idiom with international aspirations, drawing on Eastern, Western and Hungarian vernacular architecture. The Museum stands as one of the outstanding buildings of European Art Nouveau, with many special features: on the outside it is topped by an enormous dome, and the interior evokes oriental splendour, with glass-roofed halls surrounded by two-storey arcades. The tiles of the rich Hungarian-style ornamentation on the exterior and interior walls and the roof were specially made by the world-famous Zsolnay company of Pécs.
Francis Joseph, Austrian Emperor and King of Hungary, opened the building on 25 October 1896 as the closing event of the Millennium celebrations. The Museum, having been founded in 1872 (making it the third museum of applied arts in the world after those in London and Vienna), was at last able to move its collections into a building of its own.
The Museum's initial aim was to create an art collection that would promote the development of Hungarian craft industries and raise the standard of public taste; besides being a museum it was to accommodate a library and a school.
Recommended reading on the history of the building (in Hungarian):
Márta Nemes: Lechner Ödön Iparművészeti Múzeuma. Tanulmányok Budapest múltjából 24 (1991)
Piroska Ács: A budapesti Iparművészeti Múzeum gyűjteményeinek kialakulása, önálló épületének születése (1872-1897). Tanulmányok Budapest műltjából 28 (1999)
See more photographs of the building on our Flickr page.