About the collection
The Europe Collection was one of the first to be ordained a permanent presence by the museum. During the 19th century, fieldwork in ethnography in Hungary tended to concentrate on the Finno-Ugric peoples, groups ethnically related to the Hungarians. With the turn of the 20th century, however, a new emphasis was placed on national groups living in or near the territory of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.
These two bodies of material were later expanded to include artefacts from both northern and western Europe to produce a collection of truly European scope.
From a geographic perspective, the collection covers virtually every ethnic group in Europe, including both the Hungarians themselves and their distant relatives living in Siberia. Items currently number nearly 10,000, of which more than one-third is Finno-Ugric material, another one-third has been collected from the Balkan Peninsula, and the remainder from various other European cultures. The collection on Finno-Ugric peoples, established with the 19th century travels of Antal Reguly, Károly Pápai, Bernát Munkácsy, János Jankó, and József Pápay and expanded through the early 20th century collecting work of Benedek Baráthosi Balogh, constitutes the best conceived and best documented of all groups of items in the collection. Within this material, the Ob-Ugric, Finnish, and Estonian collections each offer a particularly complete perspective on the ethnic groups they represent, and are thus of significance on an international scale.
The second major component of the collection consists of objects collected from the Balkan Peninsula and from the South Slavic peoples once belonging to the Austrian Hungarian Monarchy. Most of these artefacts are pieces of decorative embroidery removed from various articles of clothing, though a number of musical instruments, metal objects, leather belts, jewellery, and ceramic pieces are also included. The best-represented ethnic groups in the collection are the Croatians and Albanians, with some 1000 and 300 items, respectively.
Compared to the Finno-Ugric and Balkan materials, the Northern and Western European collections are somewhat slighter in volume. Most objects from these areas were added to the collection without thought to conscious development of the collection as either opportune purchases or donations.
The curators of the collection is Lilla Dóra Kövesdi