Budapest may be known for its thermal baths and historic castles, but it’s actually home to more museums than both of those combined. From art and history to nature and folk culture, there’s much to discover across the city, so we’ve selected the best alternative museums in Budapest. From the Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art and the Museum of Ethnography to the Semmelweis Medical History Museum with its curious shrunken head, here’s our pick of places guaranteed to inspire and intrigue on your next trip.
Instead of visiting the traditionalist Hungarian National Gallery, get a dose of modernity at the Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art. The eclectic space showcases the country’s most intriguing collection of international contemporary artworks, ageing no more than 50 years. Whether you’re interested in colourful pop art by the likes of Andy Warhol, the work of Hungarian masters, or pieces by fresh names causing waves in the modern art scene, there’s plenty to discover at this striking museum.
Delve into a dark part of Hungarian history at the House of Terror. Taking over the former headquarters of the Hungarian secret police, the museum remembers the terrible crimes and atrocities carried out by former fascist and communist dictatorships. A memorial of sorts to victims who were tortured there, the museum features a number of exhibitions, including haunting reconstructions of prisoner cells. It’s not all doom and gloom, however, as the tour ends with the lesson that freedom wins over cruelty.
If you’re interested in the human body, take a trip to the Semmelweis Medical History Museum, housed in the childhood home of Dr Ignaz Semmelweis, an early pioneer of antiseptic procedures. The museum has an important place in Hungarian medical and surgical history, and is filled with all sorts of weird and wonderful items. Visitors can browse a fascinating collection of exhibits from the development of Hungarian and Western medicine, including a peculiar shrunken head and an anatomical Venus by Clemente Susini.
It may not sound like the most interesting attraction in Budapest, but The Museum of Hungarian Agriculture is actually one of the most unique. Its setting in a Transylvanian-style castle is half the fun, especially when you reach the Hall of Hunting – a beautiful vaulted room that’s been filled with hundreds of pairs of antlers. As well as hunting relics and taxidermy displays (perhaps guide animal lovers away from this area), visitors can discover exhibits dedicated to Hungarian agriculture through time, including forestry, fishing, and plant life.
Sometimes best way to learn about a country is through its people; at least that’s what the people behind the Museum of Ethnography (Néprajzi Múzeum) believe. Enclosed in a grand Neo-Renaissance palace, the museum gives visitors a fascinating insight into Hungarian life through replica peasant houses and eye-opening exhibitions. The main space showcases cultural trinkets from the late 18th century through to WWI, with clothes, handicrafts, furniture, pottery, books and folk music all on display.