Who we are
The Central Directorate of Country House Museums in Hungary (shortened as MTKI or Country House Museums Directorate) has been operating as an organisational unit within the Hungarian Open Air Museum since 1 April 2017. Its main responsibilities include professional support, coordination and taking care of the scientific tasks of Hungarian country house museums and those with Hungarian relevance over the border. Updating the cadastre of the locally preserved folk architectural heritage, as well as informing and training the governing bodies and leaders of the country house museums, as well as providing consultancy services are also part of our work.
Country house museums are special public collections whose activities include elements of museology, community formation, folk monument protection and maintenance. Country house museums are also significant objects of folk monument protection, therefore MTKI considers the assistance of the care of monuments, the monitoring of their condition and the initiation of the necessary interventions to be a priority. In connection with this, on behalf of the Ministry of Human Capacities (EMMI) we carry out the monitoring tasks regarding the country house museums who are winners of the Kubinyi Ágoston Programme.
The Directorate considered the establishment of the country house museum database as the first task, as well as its updating, and making it more accurate and extensive. To create the database, we launched a questionnaire survey and initiated networking with the governing bodies of the country houses, professional non-governmental organisations (Association of Hungarian Country House Museums, Oszkó Hegypásztor Kör) and regional and district museum institutions. The Directorate joined in the events of the Country House Association, by providing assistance to the members of the association in professional matters and in the preparation of tenders. While the Country House Association primarily works to strengthen the civil base of country house museums, the Directorate plays an important part in ensuring the professionalism of its operations.
At the Hungarian Open Air Museum, we organise a festival for country house museums every year entitled Country House Museums visiting in the Skanzen, when we specially greet the institutions celebrating a big, milestone anniversary of their existence, as well as those with a programme related to the theme of that year. This event is a good opportunity for the communities connected to the country house museums to meet, and the general public can get to know the country house museums and gain insight into their activities.
With the support of EMMI, we launched a training course titled Open Air Museology and Country House Museum training in 2017, a 60-hour accredited adult training course, which we organise in collaboration with the Museum Education and Methodology Centre. The target groups of the training are country house managers and others working in country house museums. Our goal is to transfer knowledge that requires complex skills that can be utilised by the participants in their daily work. It is a two-week training, which are held at the Szentendre Skanzen (Hungarian Open Air Museum) and in the Szenna Skanzen. Currently the application for the fourth course is underway. At the end of the previous three courses, a total of 50 people received certificates of completion of the training. Based on the feedback, the participants were satisfied with what they had learnt in the training, and they gained knowledge that could be applied during their work.
In 2017, we established a collaboration with the Restoration Department of the Hungarian University of Fine Arts, as a result of which we have already organised the Art Conservation and Museology pilot project three times in the Endrőd, Jósvafő, Békéscsaba Slovak and Tótkomlós Slovak country house museums. The aim of this is for the restoration students of the university to get acquainted with the specific artefact environment of the country house museum and to master the method of risk management in practice. The pilot project also involved ethnography students, who performed a revision of the country houses, during which they got acquainted with the interior furnishings characteristic of country house museums, and their knowledge of objects also increased.
In 2018, we launched our methodological series entitled Country House Museum Knowledge Base (Tájházi TudásTár). Country House Museum Knowledge Base 1, Renewal of our country houses - the aim of the exhibition scenario is to help the professional, authentic and at the same time experience-giving presentation of the exhibitions held in country house museums. The exhibitions of the Hosszúhetény Country House Museum, the Petőfi Birthplace Country House Museum in Kiskőrös and the Algyő Country House museums were created after careful preparatory work, with the publication of detailed scenarios, the exact lists of objects, visual design, and the published texts, which provide an example to follow for those who create country houses.
The series continued in 2019 under the title Country House Museum Knowledge Base 2, Renewal of Country House Museums – Conservation of Artefacts in Country House Museums. The volume was based on the Art Conservation and Museology Pilot Project jointly developed by the Restoration Department of the Hungarian University of Fine Arts, the Department of Restoration of the Hungarian National Museum, and the Central Directorate of Hungarian Country House Museums, which provides a comprehensive overview of open air and country house museum artefact protection. The volume contains articles that can be useful for country house museum management and maintenance, which draw attention to various damaging factors and ways to prevent or eliminate them, as well as jobs which can be carried out by the country house museum managers themselves.
The third volume of the series focuses on the conservation of the buildings and the combustion equipment in them, so the volume was entitled Country House Museum Knowledge Base 3, Renewal of our country house museums - traditional folk architectural techniques. With the articles in this volume – through the ‘My Grandfather’s House’ Heritage Protection Programme and the Summer University of Folk Architecture – existing good practices are intended to be shown regarding the preservation of buildings made with traditional folk architectural technology. Furthermore, knowledge was meant to be conveyed that allows simpler interventions to be carried out by governing bodies or owners, as has been done in traditional peasant society. In this way, we present the mud works, plastering, whitewashing, the wickerwork technique, and thatching out of the roofing methods. Based on the work of Tibor Sabján, a former architect-museologist at Skanzen, the maintenance tasks of the combustion equipment are also covered. This volume pays tribute to his memory.
In July 2018, we launched the Folk Architecture Summer University together with the Hagyományos Házépítő Kft. (Traditional House Building Ltd.) In the first year, Felpéc housed the programme that aimed to transfer theoretical and practical knowledge of folk architecture. During the one-week Summer University, participants had the opportunity to learn about and master traditional mud and fibre work in connection with a press house to be renovated. The summer university continued in 2019, with the participation of the staff of the Hegypásztor Circle in Oszkó, who provided the venue. In the future, in addition to the Summer University, our plans include the development of further training courses on folk architecture, in cooperation with the Association of Hungarian Architects.
On 21 September 2019, we were the first to organise a Folk Architecture Professional Day within the framework of the ‘My Grandfather's House’ Heritage Protection Programme in cooperation with the Association of Hungarian Architects. Participants in the programme got acquainted with the techniques of combustion equipment used in folk architecture through professional lectures and thematic guided tours hosted by the Hungarian Open Air Museum. Based on the successful cooperation, we organised another joint professional programme on 19 October 2019, during which the participants - in the form of a professional guided tour - could visit the buildings and country house museums in Pest County, which are considered significant from the point of view of folk architecture. Thus, we visited the monument of a Reformed Church and the Country House Museum in Ócsa, and the Tura Country House Museum.
Our future plans include the continuation of our existing programmes, as well as the establishment of a country house rapporteur network and the accreditation of related training.