Jozef Miloslav Hurban
This year marks 200
years since the birth of Jozef Miloslav Hurban (1817 – 1888), a leading
personality in Slovak national history. More than before, we will be seeing his
face in period images. The rarest one is the daguerreotype from 1849. This
portrait, taken by a unique early photographic technique, has sharp details and
offers a realistic image of the 32-year-old Hurban during the 1848/1849
deficiencies of daguerreotype included the vulnerability of the surface caused
by mechanical destruction, light instability and the inability to produce
copies. The more serious defect, however, was the fact that daguerreotype took
inverted pictures (mirror images), which can be explained by the laws of
optics. The later photographic techniques managed to adjust the vertically and
horizontally inverted image, however, the daguerreotype plate preserved these
effects and only chemically processed them to stabilise the light-sensitive
layer. Since the daguerreotype did not enable coping, reproduction or
enlarging, this was another reason while the mentioned image is of such high
The first attempt
to reproduce this daguerreotype through a photographic process in Slovakia was
in 1899, when Svetozár Hurban Vajanský initiated a copy to commemorate the 50th
anniversary of the Slovak delegation visiting Emperor Franz Joseph I. The
reproduced photo is still a mirror image, which can be seen on the positioning
of the buttons on the jackets of the participants, which could have been easily
fixed by the then photographic technique.
Both images where
most probably taken by the Serbian lithographer, photographer and painter
Anastas Jovanovič (Jovanović). He created several lithographic portraits of
Ľudovít Štúr as well as Jozef Miloslav Hurban. After Hurban’s daguerreotype was
taken, Serbian painter Johann Böss (1822 – 1861) painted his portrait in oil.
There were speculations, whether it was painted based on Jovanovič’s lithography
of sitting Hurban dated to 1849 or Hurban’s daguerreotype. When comparing the
two portraits, one can see the disparities, clearly showing the mirror,
inverted daguerreotype image.
mirror portraits of Hurban influenced several of his later images and
unfortunately, got carried all the way to contemporary fine art. His big
anniversary should be the right occasion for rectifying the daguerreotype
legacy left in Slovakia.
The Kieselbachs and
their family residence in Košice
The family of
Kieselbachs moved to Košice in the 19th century from the German municipality of
Bürtzow, which was part of the German Meklenburg-Schwerin province. Carl Georg
Christoph Kieselbach (circa 1829 – 1913), the son of a carpenter Johan Daniel
Kieselbach and Dorothy Bührk, did not follow in his dad’s shoes and became a
house painter and master decorator. He decoratively painted several significant
Levoča-native Louise Amalia Pater (1837 – 1914). Together with other ladies
from significant Košice families such as Pocsatko, Szekerák, Pausz, Münster and
Moskovics, she liked to organise and take part in various garden parties,
charity evenings, balls and raffles that supported the so-called Fröbel’s
Children’s Gardens – which was a sort of an advanced kindergarten. The couple
had two sons Károly and Gyula and two daughters Ilona Louise and Marguerite.
Kieselbachs found their home in the centre of Košice, in the old burgher’s
house at 3 Zvonárska Street. The courtyard of this house used to be a former
ditch of the town’s inner medieval fortification. Their neighbours were
significant Košice bourgeois families of Pocsatek and Gerstner.
Gyula (1860 –
1915), the oldest son of Carl Kieselbach, also became a painter and master
decorator and worked with significant Košice construction businessmen. He
contributed to various charity events, including the monument remembering the
Honvéd army in Košice and an exhibition held on the occasion of transporting Rákoczy’s
remains. He was a member of the Košice tradesmen chamber and Resurrexit masonic
lodge. In 1890, he married Louise Hönel (1869 – 1919) from Linz. They had three
sons – Gyula Fridrich Carl Jr. (1891 – ?), Géza Viliam Arpád and Vilmos Béla
Eugen (1901 – ?).
(1893 – 1965) became the most noteworthy painter of his family. He studied at
the Košice grammar school and between 1911 and 1914 worked as a painter. From
1913 to 1919 (with a break due to war) he studied in Munich in the class of Professor
Heinrich von Zügel. After the graduation in 1919 he returned to Košice. He
enhanced his artistic education with travels to Italy, Sweden, Switzerland,
Denmark, USA and Hungary. In 1924, he became a member of the Kazinczy Társaság
society, preparatory committee of the Košice Artists Association and Hungarian
Artists Union. In general, he is the representative of Luminism and
impressionism, or post-impressionism, as can be seen from his paintings in
Košice and Prešov galleries.
Milan Thurzo –
marks and Pisani kamen at Bratislava’s Kačín
Kačín is an area in
the Bratislava forestry park, which is a popular trip destination for the
Bratislavans. It used to be part of the boundary intersection between three
city parts – Bratislava (former Pressburg, Pozsony), Lamač and Záhorská
Bystrica. The evidence of this three-boundary point is documented with old
maps, as well as the remains of historical boundary marks, such as stones,
trees and trenches.
The name Kačín is
derived from the names this locality was given on historical maps made by the
significant Bratislava city geometer Andreas Eric Frics in 1768 and 1769, as
well as the map of Anthony (Antal) Sendlein from 1912. On both Frics’ maps,
Kačín is called Enten Lacken, which means Duck Puddle in older German. The map
from 1769 also marks the water area. Sendlein only marks it with the name
Entenlake. This water source helped to feed the Bystrička spring (Malá
historical boundaries, the most significant is the central part of Kačín, where
the point marking three boundaries was situated in the 19th century. Marked on
the cadastral maps as P.P.L., it was the point where the boundary of old
Pressburg (Pozsony) met with the boundary of Záhorská Bystrica (Pozsony
Besztercze) and the originally subordinate, but later independent municipality
of Lamač (Lamacs). The existence of this point is indicated by the historical
boundary marks preserved in the forestry terrain – a torso of a boundary tree,
first boundary stone between Pressburg and Lamač and wooden boundary pillar.
Kačín’s most remarkable historical mark is undoubtedly the 300 or more years
old boundary tree, which Andreas Frics documented on his maps from 1768 and
North of the
locality called Za Kačínom is a place documented on the 18th and 19th century
maps as Pisani kamen. It is where the Bratislava’s oldest and largest natural
boundary mark from 1600 can be still seen, marked as Geschriebenen Stein N. P.
1600 on Frics’s 1768 map. Emperor Rudolf II ordered the chiselling of the year
1600 into the stone, which can be still detected. The Emperor established this
stone as a boundary point following the act from the 1st of September 1600,
which ended the dispute between Bratislava and Mikuláš Pálffy about the
bordering line (he voted in favour of the city). A stylised coat of arms of
Bratislava – three-towers with a raised gate grill – is chiselled on the
eastern side of the Pisani kamen. The western side bears the Pálffy’s coat of
arms with the initials N and P (Nicolaus Pálffy) on sides.
Tatra’s electrical railway
growing number of visitors to the High Tatras mountains and the stretching
villages needed a faster, more confortable and affordable traffic connection in
the 19th century. After the Košice-Bohumín railway track was built in 1872, it
was first connected to the mountainous Tatranská Lomnica in 1895 and then to
Štrbské Pleso a year later. On the 20th of December 1907, the then monarch
granted the concession for building the electrical railway track Poprad – Starý
Smokovec and land cableway Starý Smokovec – Hrebienok to the Budapest-based
company Phőbus. The cableway was open to the public on the 17th and the Poprad
– Starý Smokovec track on the 20th of December 1908. It was the first
electrified railway for public use in Slovakia.
company, Alföldi, Briefer and Groszmann, worked at that time on building the
railway track from Štrbské Pleso to Tatranská Lomnica. The stations were built
by the construction businessmen Sándor Simonkay (1877 – 1917) from Levoča and
János Urinyi (1880 – ?) from Spišska Nová Ves. The Tatranská Polianka –
Tatranská Lomnica track was open on the 16th of December 1911 and on the 3rd of
August 1912 Tatranská Lomnica was connected to Štrbské Pleso.
The building of the
Štrbské Pleso – Tatranská Lomnica track, resulted in adding a whole range of
transportation service buildings. The railway stations and waiting room
shelters, designed by an unknown architect, utilised the functional typology of
the railway buildings in combination with the High Tatra’s typical
half-timbered architecture. In order to effortlessly merge with the Tatra’s spa
atmosphere, the purposefully constructed transportation buildings followed the
architecture’s period aesthetical criteria, inspired by the late-secession work
of Károly Kós and his group of the Young (Fiatalok). As needed, the tracks were
fitted with large and representative buildings (Starý Smokovec, Hrebienok),
smaller buildings (Tatranská Lomnica, Tatranská Polianka, Vyšné Hágy) and tiny
waiting room shelters. The most representative of the Tatra’s station buildings
was the railway station in Starý Smokovec that opened on the 3rd of August
The new way of
transportation also required the building of essential technical facilities.
The company of the Tatra’s local electrified railways therefore decided to
build an engine depot at the place of the old railway station for “parking” the
trams. Hand in hand with extending the tracks, they opened a new steam power
plant in Poprad in 1912, which sent the alternating current to the rectifier
station in Horný Smokovec, where it was changed to direct current that powered
the electric railway. The rectifier station is a representative example of the
High Tatra’s rational architecture.
of the interwar period
At the end of 1918,
Košice became part of the first Czechoslovak Republic. The following two
decades were the era of changes that turned the town into a real modern
regional metropolis. Economy, urbanism as well as all aspects of political,
social and cultural sphere advanced forward and Košice became a natural centre
for organising military training, youth, professional and confessional
societies and corporations (such as legionaries, shooting clubs, athletic
units). The key moments of Košice’s social and societal life in the interwar
period have been preserved on memorial badges, which are now popular collective
items. Many talented academic sculptors and painters helped to create
traditional medals and plaques as well as a number of membership, honourable
and commemorative badges.
One of the
politically and socially most significant group were the legionaries. They
organised a mass congress of the local units of Czechoslovak legionaries from
eastern Slovakia and Ruthenia in July 1925. The main motif of the badge
commemorating this event is a walking figure of a Czechoslovak legionary,
wearing a helmet and holding a full-blown flag in his right hand. The
bronze-tin badge with a Czechoslovak legionary in a characteristic alpine hat
(cappello alpino) with an eagle’s feather commemorates the 10th anniversary of
the origin of the 32nd infantry regiment of Gardský, which was formed as a part
of the Czechoslovak legions stationed in Italy in 1918. In 1938, they issued a
budge commemorating the regiment’s 20th anniversary, which features a
breast-piece of a legionary holding a rifle with an attached bayonet.
Two phalerist items
were preserved to remember the celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the
legendary battle at Zborov, which were organised at the turn of spring and
summer in 1937. The first is a large badge of white metal with a deep relief
image of a National Corps’ member in uniform with helmet, holding a rifle. The
second, smaller bronze badge has the shape of a gothic shield positioned on a
stylised sword with crossed lime branches. Another bronze badge, portraying a
Czechoslovak legionary in winter clothes, commemorates the following 2nd
manifestation meeting of the legionaries from eastern Slovakia and Ruthenia,
which took place at the end of June 1937. The badge is the work of Prague’s
medal maker Ivan Bojislav Pichl.
The first Slovak
unit of the Czechoslovak Shooting Community was established on the 15th of
November 1924 in Košice. It regularly manifested the population’s resolution to
protect their country. A badge embossed into thin bronze tinplate, with the
shooting community’s member in uniform and aiming a rifle, commemorated the
shooting ceremony from 1929. The Social Democracy organised a promotion event
of the Worker’s Athletic Unions to celebrate the first decade of the
Czechoslovak Republic’s existence. The bronze badge issued on this occasion
portrays a man bare to his waist and walking towards (the symbolic) three hills
while carrying the federal flag.
monuments of St. Elisabeth’s Cathedral in Košice
The significance of
Košice in the history of the Hungarian Kingdom is probably best symbolised in
the architecture of St. Elisabeth’s Cathedral. The Dome represents the
political and social-cultural status of the town. It is also the place filled
with written-pictorial symbolism. In the past, mainly older Hungarian
researchers studied the cathedral’s epigraphic monuments. Their work is of an
indisputable significance, especially when it comes to sepulchral relics. Many
of the other remnants, however, have either escaped their attention or they
knew very little about them, as they were not recognised during the research.
One of them is the
cathedral’s oldest artefact – the medieval bronze baptistery from around the
first third of the 14th century. From the epigraphic view, the baptistery
remained a mystery until now and the inscription was either non-deciphered, or
incorrectly interpreted. The author of this article decoded the following: + IN
. OLE . QVISQUE . LOTVS . FIT . MVND(I) . CRIMINE . LOTVS . VITE ABOLES NOS.
This can be freely translated as: Each who washes in this vessel cleanses the
sins of the world. You clear us of sin.
context and size is the painted inscription in the Chapel of St. Stephen. It
was barely visible, so they restored it and had an attempt at deciphering it.
It is a collection of memorable records of significant events that happened in
Hungary at the end of the 14th and first half of the 15th century. The
inscriptions were not made in the time of the aforementioned events, but post
1439, or the beginning of the second half of the 15th century.
The fragment of the
wall painting in the Sigismund tower of the Dome also remained unnoticed until
now. The key for identifying the fragment was the barely readable writing on
the pages of the featured book, which is about the Annunciation of the Blessed
Virgin Mary. The following research would aim to approximately date the whole
involves the graffiti inscriptions in the so-called Matej or Southern tower.
Though they mainly come from the middle of the 17th century, one of the
best-preserved ones is from 1571. The people who created them were often
significant personalities, such as the Levoča organist Samuel Marckfelner (1621
– 1674), rector of a school in Šarišské Bohdanovce John Bruchacius (Bruchacz),
Rožňava protestant scholar Samuel Schröter and John Apponi, who served as a
priest in Skrabské around 1639.
Portrait of the
Lady in Black Lace – unknown work of Dominik Skutecký
The works of
Dominik Skutecký (1848 – 1921) are one of the most hunted amongst the art
collectors. Therefore, there would be very little chance of finding an unknown
piece. The author of the article, who is an authorised expert, was assessing an
oil painting on canvas, measuring 50.5cm by 39cm, which featured a profile
portrait of a woman from a private ownership, with a signature Skutezky D. 9…
The author tried to confirm or refute whether the painting was an original work
of Dominik Skutecký.
Despite a number of
evident secondary interventions – retouches and re-paintings, the detailed
research of the painting’s original layer with optical microscopy and X-ray
fluorescence analysis confirmed Skutecký’s authorship. Several facts also
suggested that it was a cut-out of a larger format. This raises a question,
whether the artist himself wrote the signature that we see. Dominik Skutecký
used different ways to sign his works, but when comparing the composition,
slant and shape of the font, it is almost identical with the signature he used
on the portrait of his wife Cecília Löwy, which he painted in the latter years
of the 19th century and now sits in the collections of the Central-Slovak
Gallery in Banská Bystrica.
The second proof of
his authorship is the high quality of the portrait. Based on the fragment of
the date next to the artist’s signature, but not only that, it seems that the
work could only have been done after mid 1890s. It was during the time when
Skutecký lived in Banská Bystrica and painted several portraits. Apart from the
images of his close family, relatives and friends, he also painted significant
personalities from Vienna, Venice and Banská Bystrica.
The Portrait of the
Lady in Black Lace is not an example of a formal or representative portrait
made to order. It exhibits intimacy and an erotic hint, hand in hand with a bit
of mystery. The collections of the Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava keep a
coloured drawing signed by F. Sk. and dated 1886. It is a lively work, with
physiognomic features similar to the Lady in Black Lace. Did Dominik Skutecký
portray this unknown woman twice? The answer will be the subject of another
Eugen Bárkány and
his work that could not be completed
The Eugen Bárkány
Prize was first awarded on the 7th of November 2016 for activities aimed at
protecting Jewish cultural heritage in Slovakia. The Central Union of Jewish
Religious Communities will award the prize annually. Who was this man, whose
name has become the symbol for preserving Jewish culture in Slovakia?
Eugen Bárkány was
born on the 28th of August 1885 in the municipality of Šarišské Lúky near
Prešov. After graduating from the Prešov’s evangelical grammar school, he went
to study architecture at the Technical University in Budapest, where he
finished in 1908. He returned to Prešov in 1911 and together with his brother
Hugo (1893 Šarišské Lúky – 1944 Oswiecim, Poland), they opened an architect’s office.
In 1914, he designed and built himself a villa in Art Nouveau style at 8
Francisciho ulica Street.
When the First
World War broke out, he went to fight and was captured by the Russians. After
the war ended, it took him two and a half months to come back home through Hong
Kong, Singapore, Cairo and Trieste. Many of his drawings, sketches and articles
from the prison camp in Siberia have been preserved. After his return, he
settled back in his villa and continued the work of an architect and restorer.
Bárkány was also known in Prešov as a collector of antiques. In 1928 he became
a director and leading personality of Prešov’s Jewish museum.
The work with
Judaic items led Eugen Bárkány to a religious life. In 1940 – 1942 he was the
director of the neo-logical Jewish community in Prešov. In April 1942, the
Bárkány couple fled to Budapest, where they survived the war under false names.
The return to
Prešov in May 1945 was a sad one. The local Jewish community, decimated by the
war in number as well as spirit, was not interested in re-opening the Prešov
Jewish Museum. His collection was therefore deposited in Prague since 1952,
where it was the only existing Jewish museum in the then Czechoslovakia.
chapter of Bárkány’s life is the ethnographic research of Slovak folk
architecture he did for the Ethnographic Institute at the Slovak Academy of
Sciences in 1952 – 1956. Better known is his contribution in documenting Jewish
immovable relics. He first worked on the research as a freelancer for the
Jewish Museum in Prague and later was assigned to continue the task by the
director of the Slovak Institute for the Care of Monuments and Nature
Conservation in Bratislava (today’s Monuments Board of the Slovak Republic.)
The list he handed over in December 1965 contained 121 registered Jewish
Bárkány started to assemble a second collection of Judaic items. His aim was to
turn the abandoned neo-logical synagogue at Rybné Square into a Jewish museum,
which would run as a branch of Prague’s State Jewish Museum. A monument to
holocaust victims was also planned as part of the project, since Bratislava was
still lacking one. The Jewish museum was to start its activity in January 1966.
However, the plans could not be completed, since the synagogue was pulled down
due to the construction of the Danube’s new bridge. Eugen Bárkány died in
Bratislava on the 6th of November 1967.
Wooden synagogue in
Veličná na Orave
Next to the wooden
churches, there were also several wooden synagogues in Slovakia, which enriched
the collection of religious buildings in Central and Eastern Europe. None of
them exist anymore. This is not only due to natural aging, natural catastrophes
and dramatic war conflicts, but also due to people’s negligence and religious
intolerance. There is very little evidence about their existence.
wooden synagogues were mostly situated in rural areas of northeastern Slovakia.
They were mainly built in places with an abundance of quality conifers. In the
former town, now municipality of Brezovica nad Torysou, was a small, clay
coated, log building with simple saddle roof. The year of the origin is
unknown; we only know that it perished in the middle of the 20th century, when
it was used as a barn for a short time. In the nearby municipality of Čirč, a
farmer allegedly bought a damaged log synagogue during the Second World War and
built a house and adjoining farm’s steadings from its wood. Its existence, as
well as the existence of the Pečovská Nová Ves synagogue that had its wooden
structure from 1868 replaced by masonry, is only documented by a cadastral map
from the middle of the 19th century. In Lipany, Jews built a masonry synagogue
at the end of the 1920s in the place of the wooden one from 1858. The wooden
synagogue in Kurim was built in 1810, but there is no information about its
fate. Similarly, we know very little about the wooden synagogue from the middle
of the 19th century in Hanušovce nad Topľou and nothing about its end.
wooden synagogues were also built in town. This was linked to the fact that for
the newly emerging Jewish communities at the end of the 18th and beginning of
the 19th century, wood was the most accessible and cheapest construction
material. The masonry synagogue built in Liptovský Mikuláš in 1846 replaced the
smaller wooden one from 1732. The secession masonry synagogue in Trenčín was
built in 1913 in the place of the older wooden one from the 18th century.
It was the
turbulent period at the end of the 17th century that brought Jews to Veličná
(Welka Wes, Welicsna, Nagyfalu), a former landlord’s town and seat of the Orava
County for several centuries. The tragic fire that destroyed a large part of
the town, including the town house and St. Michael’s Church that kept the
county’s and town’s archives, resulted in a significant population reduction
and great economic recession. The old inhabitants welcomed the first Jews, who
entered the Hungarian Kingdom from Moravia, with the hope that they would help
to rebuild the town’s devastated economy. The Jews of Veličná first
manufactured and sold wax and candles, but better income started coming at the
end of the 18th century from renting distillery, brewery, town’s and lordship’s
pub and the selling of alcohol.
Jewish religious community was established in Veličná at the turn of the 18th
and 19th centuries. It was part of the rabbinate in Dolný Kubín, which was
widely known for its school – Yeshiva, which at the beginning of the 20th
century was still attended by many students, including Christians. The town
representatives signed a contract with the local Jewish community on the 8th of
October 1820 about the selling of an older wooden house with the aim to
reconstruct it into a chapel. A year later they agreed on building a new wooden
chapel and ritual bath. Unknown, possibly local carpenters built the synagogue
with a log construction. The wooden synagogue with its simple architectural
style completed the traditional look of the municipality’s market square.
The number of
active Jewish believers in Veličná started to decline in the first third of the
20th century. The local Jewish community found it difficult to keep the wooden
synagogue in good technical condition. Regarding the smaller number of
believers, the synagogue only held services four times a year. Eugen Bárkány
(1885 – 1967) visited Veličná in 1932 or 1933, in search of liturgical items
for the newly founded Jewish Museum in Prešov. He acquired five caskets for
Torah and two parochets.
evangelical church choir bought the land where the wooden synagogue stood in
1942, in order to build a new choir house there. The construction did not begin
due to the war and after it ended, the new political regime did not allow it.
The synagogue thus continued to deteriorate.
The decaying synagogue
was sold as construction material in 1946. Luckily, Eugen Bárkány returned to
Veličná at that time and rescued the last liturgical textiles for the new
Bratislava Jewish museum. The Judaic items are now in the collections of the
Jewish Community Museum in Bratislava.
Puppetry in Slovak
and Czech Republics as part of the intangible cultural heritage of mankind
UNESCO, the United
Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation approved an essential
document, the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural
Heritage at its 32nd meeting in Paris in October 2003. This term refers to the
practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills, as well as the
instruments, objects, artefacts and cultural spaces associated therewith that
communities, groups and individuals recognise as part of their cultural
heritage. This heritage is passed from generation to generation and constantly
recreated in response to their environment, interaction with nature and their
history. It provides them with a sense of identity and continuity, thus
promoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity.
The main outcome of
the UNESCO Convention is the work on the Representative List of the Intangible
Cultural Heritage of Humanity, List of the Best Safeguarding Practices and List
of Intangible Cultural Heritage Items in Need of Urgent Safeguarding. In 2010,
Slovakia therefore created its own UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible
Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
The first Slovak
item registered on the list was fujara – a flute-type instrument and its music
(2005). The music of Terchová village was added in 2013 and the Bagpipe culture
in 2015. The Puppetry in Slovakia and the Czech Republic is the historically
first international nomination of these two countries, which was added on the
UNESCO’s representative list on the 1st of December 2016.
The puppet theatre
in the Slovak and Czech Republics represents a traditional cultural phenomenon.
This type of a theatre links the dramatic, stage setting, musical and
interpretation skills that are an inseparable part of the Slovak and Czech
theatrical, literary and artistic-crafty tradition. The original carriers of
this art form were the families of nomadic puppeteers. Thanks to the folk art
progress and attempts of resurrecting national ideals, this art acquired an
autonomous theatre form, which noticeably differs from the puppet theatre and
other cultural communities in the world.
Museum of the
Andrássys in Betliar
changes in Slovak cultural institutions are rather rare and are usually linked
to personal changes on leading positions or large financial boosts from the
founders. The need for changing thinking and increasing work efficiency at the
SNM’s Museum in Betliar was as if predestined by a higher force – a large fire
destroyed the Krásna Hôrka castle in 2012 and a calamity devastated the park of
the Andrássy manor house in Betliar in the two years that followed.
The end of the
Second World War brought the desired peace as well as a new situation in
society. The noble residences lost their significance and new functions were
not easily found for them. The newly formulated Monument’s Fund of Slovakia has
been coping with this situation until this date. Most of the manor houses,
mansions, town palaces and castles were robbed and the salvaged ones neglected.
Only three manor houses were spared: Betliar, Orlové and Hodkovce. Only
Betliar’s manor house of the Andrássys, however, can be admired for its almost
completely preserved authentic equipment.
In 2014, the
SNM-Museum Betliar re-formulated its mission and re-evaluated the way it was
managing the collection items and appealing to visitors. The results have
confirmed the decisions taken by the museum’s team were right. They included
setting up a restoration studio, bringing in more experts, create new
depositaries and improve the conditions in the existing ones, making displays
more attractive and expanding customer’s services (which has reflected in a
rise of visitors). These improvements also affected the concepts and creations
of new expositions. The new permanent exposition (or better a set of new
expositions) is a big, if not the largest event in the museum’s history.
The museum narrates
the lives of the last three generations of the Andrássys living in Slovakia.
The first generation, represented by Earl Emanuel I (1821 – 1891), extended the
older manor house to its present size and used it for representation purposes.
The hunter’s residence with generous rooms for displaying various collections
was built in 1883. Later, around 1905, Emanuel’s son Géza I (1856 – 1938)
modernised the house and added a family function, which resulted in the origin
of luxurious apartments for the family members and guests. The following
generation of Emanuel II (1892 – 1953) affected the house’s interior and
collections the least, but added many photographs and hunter’s trophies.
Andrássys left Slovakia in 1944 and in 1947, after the nationalisation process,
the manor house was open to the public.
Defining the three
phases in the modern history of the manor house (and its park) was key when
designing the exhibition, which aimed at illustrating the life it lived. Apart
from the functions of the building’s individual parts, it also displays
collections and a family portrait gallery. The tour in the Betliar’s manor
house tries to get across an important message about culture, art and history
through the stories of people we can all be proud of – Gyula Andrássy, Peter
Kellner Hostinský, Géza Andrássy, Eleonóra Andrássy-Kaunitzová, Eleonóra
Voračická of Paběnice, Antonín Dvořák, Erna Masarovičová, Ilona Andrássyová,
Alžbeta Güntherová-Mayerová and others.