Museum of the Hungarian Language
The Museum of the Hungarian Language, the only native language museum of our homeland, was opened in Széphalom, Northeast Hungary on 23rd April 2008. Ferenc Kazinczy, the reformer of the Hungarian literary language and style, the most excellent author in the history of Hungarian culture lived and worked here for twenty – five years, from 1806 until his death in 1831. In Kazinczy’s time Széphalom was one of the centres of Hungary’s literary life. The conscious language reform started in Hungary in the 18th century and aimed at the expansion of the vocabulary, the substitution of foreign (Latin and German) words for Hungarian ones, the renewal of the literary style, and the creation of a unified language. As a result of the language reform Hungarian became a modern language capable of being used in the field of professions, sciences, and in the literature on an European level, and became the official language in 1844.
The writer’s grave, which became a pilgrimage site already during the Reform Era, can be found in Széphalom. The neoclassic style memorial hall was built at the site of Kazinczy’s resident in 1873, and since 2008 the modern building of the language museum has also been awaiting visitors in the beautiful natural environment of a 5.4 hectares large garden.
The Museum of the Hungarian Language is a place for exhibitions and events, a centre of museum – pedagogy, a scientific workshop, and memorial hall – an outstanding institution of Hungarian language cultivation. It provides exhibitions, cultural programmes and museumpedagogical workshops to its guests. By displaying the treasures of our national past and present it serves our mother tongue, national culture and the ascension of our nation in a useful way. The mission of the institution is to convey the native culture, one of the core values of national erudition to those who are interested, by utilising the characteristics of the place, the aura of the genius loci as well. The museum is a national public collection of general topics, which focuses on the whole spectrum of Hungarian speaking communities both inside and outside the country borders. The Museum of the Hungarian Language is a main department of the Petőfi Literary Museum.
The two main purposes of the museum are to make people aware of the traditions of language and literature, and the awareness – raising in the native language, the education to a conscious use of language. The Museum of the Hungarian Language shows us the language the way it is present in our life and has influence over many aspects of it; therefore, the associated sciences (literature, history, ethnography, psychology, sociology) are also represented in the exhibitions, and the linguistic humour and play has a significant role as well. Demonstrating the joy in using the language and popularising the writing with hands are important missions of the museum.
There are 10 exhibitions in the institution, three of them are permanent. The Kazinczy Memorial Hall displays the lifework of the great language reformer by using original objects, the exhibition “Secret of Secrets” gives visitors an insight into the past, present and future of the Hungarian language, using lots of pictures, objects, audio records, and computer games. On Language watch. The adventures around the language invites us to an adventurous research – we have to locate a lost manuscript by solving exciting riddles, while the diversity and wonderful richness of our mother tongue is revealed.
The language museum is the centre of the Hungarian museum – pedagogy in native language, and offers workshops, interactive lectures to every each group from nursery school children to adults.
A movable stage and an auditorium with 100 seats are also parts of the building, which makes the language museum suitable to host conferences, lecture evenings, theatre performances, classical concerts, and screenings.
For many people Széphalom is a real pilgrimage site of Hungarians, a visit here is a symbolic action – an obeisance to the Hungarian language. Colleagues and guests of the language museum often quote Sándor Petőfi’s words: “…. it is a holy place, holy because of the old man who has his house and grave here. It should be an obligation for every Hungarian with a more elevated soul to make pilgrimage there at least once in their life…“
Every day except Monday.
Summer opening hours: from April 1st, 9am to 5pm
Winter opening hours: from November 1, 8am to 4pm