Wednesday, July 19, 2006

On a Sweltering Day

I made a second list of all of the museums in Budapest after finding a list from the tourist office that had some I did not have on the original list found on the net. It is difficult to believe just how many museums there are, though some are tiny enough to fit into our living room. Thankfully so or this project would take more than my summer.

I sent out the list for the next week to the students; however, presumably, most are finally enjoying their summer vacation and this resembles school to them, so I do not expect great turnouts. Actually, if anyone shows, I will be surprised.

Today, I ventured to the Hungarian National Museum located in district VIII at Múzeum korut. Website: . It looks like a gloriously Greek inspired structure with tremendous columns built to the design of Mihály Pollack between 1837 and 1847. It was recently renovated and shines in splendor. The museum's area covers over 8000 square meters making it the largest in Hungary. Best of all, the admission is free! The got’cha is that a photo ticket is a whopping 3,000 Huf and 5,000 for video. Holy Hungarian, that is a blow to the wallet if you are a died in the wool camera buff. I slapped down the money, then thought I could do a whole lot more with that $13.50 (at today’s exchange), so I snatched it back confusing the cashier.

I have been to this museum twice before. The first
time was 1998 and the second time was 2003, so I felt ‘due’ again. There are signs that the coat check is mandatory. They need to extend the definition since you are not allowed to take in a purse, back pack, shoulder bag or anything with you. It all must be checked or the guard will tackle you to the ground, scream while he is doing it, and everyone’s eyes will be on you. I keep a little padlock on my shoulder bag for such occasions and can lock my wallet in the compartment is lives in. If the lock is tampered with, it is an immediate alert as to whom the suspect happens to be. Perhaps it is living here that has had its effect, but I appreciated this museum much more today than in the past.

Each room is a period in Hungarian history, but the difference with this visit is that there is an English translation. The one problem that I encountered was the heat. A half hour into the exhibits, I started feeling sick and sweaty. If I did not sit down every 15 minutes, I know I would have been on the floor. It is beyond me how the employees can
work there wearing uniforms. It was ungodly.

On that note, the second museum for the day was the Bible Museum in district
IX. Ráday U. 28, Open: 10am-6pm daily except Mondays. On a side note, Budapest is doing the “Cow Parade” that originated in Switzerland years ago. This is the first year here. There are some clever ones and some really mundane examples.

This one is rather interesting given that it was a Hungarian who invented the Rubics Cube.

One thing I tend to forget here in Hungary is that the building numbering is not like the States. If you
are walking past 29 on this side of the street, it does not mean that 28 is across from you. It could be a block or two away or you may have passed it. Walking on the odd side of the street in the shade, I passed the museum and had to backtrack. When I reached the place, I still was not sure it was the correct place. There was a building number with 28 on it, but it had an arrow pointing further up the street. It was the plaque that caught my eye and in the lobby that was under construction, I went. Along one wall was a glass display with bibles in different languages of the world. The most unusual were the ones in Cherokee and Yuppi, an Eskimo language, plus the world's smallest bible. This was one of the three main exhibits of the museum and I had not entered it yet.

There is no charge for this museum, but there is a box for donations. When the sole attendant realized I did not speak Hungarian, she was
kind enough to lend me the book that was for sale to guide my way. The second main section is 'Archaeology and the Bible'. Basically, this goes back to Egyptian times and most of the things are replicas of artifacts. Interesting, but not bible related in my mind. The smallest section of the place was the 'History of the Bible in Hungarian'. Perusing the displays was interesting, but this was not a highlight of my day.

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