Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Continuing the Museum Tours

I announced to students that today would start with the Postal Museum at Andrássy út 3, Metro: M1 Bajcsy-Zsilinksky út, Open: 10am-6pm Apr 1-Oct 31, 10am-4pm Nov 1-Mar 31 (closed Mondays).

When arriving at this address, one has to press a buzzer to be admitted into the building. The building is worth a visit aside from the museum. The museum itself is situated in a decorative first floor apartment formerly belonging to the wealthy Andreas Saxlehner. The museum focuses on the history of the Hungarian postal service and telephones, but there are no stamps here. Included among the exhibits is a mock 19th-century post office and vintage mail vehicle. The building itself is the highlight of a visit here.

On Sunday the admission is free, other times, it is 200 Huf. Well worth the admission for the apartment alone, this is incredibly decorated in the original style. The courtyard has the best view from the balcony on the opposite side of the museum looking back. I have had many pleasant surprises in museums; some I expected to spend less than 30 minutes in and found myself leaving an hour or more later. This one was no exception. About ten minutes into my lurking around, one of my students showed up. She and I continued to browse the rooms and discuss the items on display. Everything was translated into English on laminated cards in each room. This was a shocker considering the size and cost of admission.

My student and I spent a lot of time with all of the exhibits and this brought about a funny situation. She asked one of the attendants a question that I had asked her. The attendant was proud to answer all questions and then later
said to my student, “Where is your father from?” My student explained that I was not her father, but that I was an American. The assistant was duly impressed with the time and care I spent looking at everything and taking many photos. Sadly, during the entire time we were there, we were the only two visitors to a ratio of five employees. I highly recommend this museum, but if you are interested in stamps, there is yet another museum that specializes in them.

The two of us went to Café Eklectica for a coffee and a chat. It was enjoyable to spend time one on one with a student and get to know her better.

For the next stop, we were to go to the Ernst Museum where another student was waiting for us. The museum was closed since they were redoing the current exhibit, so we decided to continue on to the Hopp Museum of Eastern Asiatic Arts. It is in the VI district at Andrássy út 103, Metro: M1 Bajza utca. Open: 10-4pm Jan 1-Mar 13 (closed Mon), 10am-6pm Mar 14-Dec 31 (closed Mon.). Admission is 400 Huf and a photo ticket was 500 Huf. I wisely decided to wait to see the exhibit before purchasing a ticket and was glad of the decision.

This museum is the collection of works from India and the far east accumulated by Hungarian businessman Ferenc Hopp. By the time of his death in 1919, he had amassed a huge collection. According to the literature, the collection consisted of ancient Buddhist art dating back to the 9/10th centuries and is displayed alongside Japanese, Indian and Tibetan-Nepalese pieces.

From what I saw, at the time of our visit, most everything was Japanese. There was a vast collection of inkboxes, which we did not understand what they were for; the explanation in Hungarian was not clear and there is little in English. Although there were other pieces, almost everything was from Japan, which did not interest me in the least, but the students were fascinated.

The place was blazing hot due
to the weather and signs explained that it was not air conditioned on purpose to keep the humidity at a certain level for the items on display. My sympathy went out to the workers. The museum consists of three rooms, but there is one woman sitting downstairs selling tickets and three attendants upstairs monitoring visitors. On this particular day and time, we were the only visitors. I would only recommend this museum to those who have a fervent love of Asiatic pieces, unless the collection rotates. Even at that, I would be hard-pressed to return.

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