Searching my way out of the crowded and muggy city center on a hot summers day, I decided to head to the much quieter and more peaceful Buda side. Visiting the Bajor Gizi Színészmúzeum (Stromfeld Aurél u. 16) was not only getting an overview over the past periods of theatre in Hungary but jumping into other decades.
Arriving at the gate of the museum, which was the residence of former actress Bajor Gizi as well, a calm and planted garden, completely walled, welcomed me and I had the feeling of breathing fresh and healthy air for the first time over the past couple of months. There was not a single noise, just some benches and sculptures, which made a stay at this garden very pleasant.
Moving on to the entrance, I realized that I was one of the very few visitors in the museum so that I had the possibility to get a guided tour across the different rooms.
As I mentioned before the museum was established in the mansion of Bajor Gizi, one oft he most famous actresses in the past decades in Hungary. After marrying her third husband in 1933, Bajor Gizi moved into his mansion, which soon became the meeting point for the important artists at that time. During the second world war it became the shelter for soldiers and families. The arrival of the russian military headquarter in Bajor Gizis mansion in 1945 meant the end of cultural life there. One year after her husband poisened and murdered Bajor Gizi, the museum was opened for the first visitors.
Inside, there are different themes depicted in different rooms. There is material about operette, actors, directors, dance and architecture from about 200 years of hungarian art history. As paintings, jewellery, miniature buildings, letters, movies and old requisites are only a couple of samples, I can say that the museum offers a wide overview of theatre life in the past. The guide even turned on a grammophone so that I could wander around, hearing the sound of an old operette!
Unfortunately, almost nothing was written in English so that, except from a small introduction, the exhibition is more suited to gaze around the beautiful house than to gain information, at least for foreigners.
What I found really interesting while walking around the villa was the fact that even though I knew nothing about hungarian art, there were a lot of names that sounded familiar to me: There where Blaha Lujza and Raday Imre, famous actors, Móricz Zsigmond, a writer, and other names that attract attention while walking on the streets of Budapest.
On the first floor, there is the permanent exhibition about artistic life in Hungary while on the ground floor there are changing exhibitions. When I visited, the exhibition about costumes wasn’t opened yet, though I could get a small glimpse of colourful and elaborate dresses.
After having spent 500 Forints for the entrance of the museum I decided to buy some ice cream for the other 500 at a supermarket near by to eat it in the garden of the museum. I guess that’s the thing that completed my visit: sitting in the sun, smelling some fresh air and thinking about the times when this villa was the centre of cultural life in Budapest.
You can visit the museum from Thursday to Sunday, 14:00 – 18:00 o’clock.
By Sarah Schäfer