The two wings of the Museum of Ethnography’s new building in Budapest evoke an imaginary circle with a diameter of one kilometre, and the surface of the building expands into a rooftop garden of more than seven thousand square metres. What we see is not merely a perfect slice of a circle but also a gateway between the natural landscape of the renewed City Park and the pulsating city life.

The architect emphasised this function of conveyance and transmission through the embellishment of the metal shading lattice which envelopes the façade of the building, adorning it with contemporary transcriptions of the ornamental patterns used by the various traditions and cultures displayed and preserved in the museum. Counting nearly half a million pixels, the façade ornamentation symbolises the unparalleled richness of the Museum of Ethnography’s collection as an interwoven tapestry of Hungarian and worldwide culture, welcoming visitors to the museum. This building is the first home of this long-established institution of a hundred and fifty years, which has been specifically designed to accommodate the museum’s purposes.

The exhibition presents the new building, its ornamentation, the museum’s collection and contemplates the culmination of these elements observing the overall artistic relationship that connects this piece of architecture with music and light.

The music is present in the exhibition as an object in the form of a new contemporary instrument – the Soundcylinder, designed for the exhibition by architect and composer Péter Mátrai – which condenses and expresses the history of music as an instrument and a musical motif, which makes the relationship between the building and the music audible.
The museum’s collection is presented in an animated short film (Ethnozoom) and an interactive computer program, the MotifCreator. The application was developed by MOON42 and contains more than 1001 vectorised ornaments and motifs from the Museum of Ethnography’s Hungarian and international artefacts collection. With the program running on touchscreen, visitors can create and download their own unique motif-composition while contributing to a worldwide community creation.

Reziduum is a sound, space, and light installation. Through this exhibition, we aim to create a representation of a cultural memory where the different ethnological layers become visible; from the historical artifacts, the new building, and its urban context to contemporary music.

Mária Kondor-Szilágyi