Hungarian National Gallery (Budapest, Hungary)

Before I moved to Europe, I didn’t have a good feeling toward arts galleries. In my bringing-up, there’s nothing called “arts education”. So I couldn’t really get anything out of a visit to an art gallery when I was a kid. It’s quite natural that I learned to avoid such places.

Thinking back… the first time that I ever visited an art museum seriously happened when I was in London for my master study. In one lecture, the professor of museum communications asked us to go to the National Gallery to try its Micro Gallery program and write an evaluation of it. From then on I re-started to look at the field of arts museums seriously. After I moved to Italy, I’ve got Michele who has established a solid arts background in artistic high school as a guide. Visiting arts galleries and seeing arts exhibitions have gradually become part of my life.

Michele, Cristian and Silvia are all enthusiastic arts-lovers. As a result, the Hungarian National Gallery entered the must-see list naturally. The first time we went to the Buda hill, there’re lots of target places, such as the national gallery, the history museum, and the Matthias Church. The gallery is situated in the Palace. It seemed to be big and we’ve got four hours to spend before the closure hour. So we chose the gallery as our first stop, because it seemed that it’d probably take more time to have a thorough look of it. (It has proved that we made the right choice. There’re four floors in the museum. Even if we didn’t go through everything carefully, it still took us around fout hours to have a general look of it.)

Due to my ignorance, it was an “aimless” visit. In my previous gallery visits, there have always been some “big names” that I heard of. But this time… none… all four floors… not a single name! Besides, without the help of audio guide, even there’re some excellent pieces that I like, I really couldn’t enjoy the wandering without knowing the stories behind. I was feeling kind of anxious.

I started to “file” my questions to Michele and Cristian. After all, they know much more about arts while I can’t even call myself amateur. However, one question after another, they both seemed confused. We started to talk about all the possibilities. Is it for our ignorance, or the geographical boundary, political reason, or protectionism? Our discussion went on for quire a while…

I’m still a beginner that tries to step into the world of painting. Every time I visit a museum, I ask myself to remember at least one thing, from the touching feeling of a painting to the name of an artist or some interesting stories. I have to learn or experience something new, and that’s how I can keep pushing myself to frequent the art world.

What I learned in the visit to the Gallery is the name of Mihaly Munkacsy. There’s a special exhibition showing a selection of Munkacsy’s painting from all over the world. We didn’t know who he is when we bought the ticket. We basically went for curiosity. After all, he has to be kind of important for such a museum to organize a special exhibition all dedicated to his works.

I got to know a bit about Munkacsy after I came back home. I went to the Internet to do some research. I found nothing in Chinese, but there’s a detailed entry about him in Wikipedia. Many of his salon and landscape paintings were exhibited. I remembered seeing many works depicting lives of normal people right after I entered the exhibition area. The dim and dark colors he used make it easier for viewers to visualize lives of that time. However, the ones that impressed me more are the salon paintings in the second room. The luxurious interior design of the rooms, smiling women dressed with elegance, and the loving children and dogs in the paintings… a series of paintings to describe Munkacsy’s life after he became famous. I can almost feel the happiness of these people. When I think back, the image still seems to be so vivid in front of my eyes…

There’re also many of Munkacsy’s personal belongings in the exhibition. But for us who knew nothing about him, this kind of objects couldn’t really raise our interests.

Even if we didn’t visit the gallery in detail, it still took us almost four hours just have a fast walk-through of it. At this point, we of course couldn’t accomplish our original plan to visit at least another point. Thinking to finish visiting the Buda hill in one single afternoon… we were for sure too optimistic!!

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