Ludwig Museum or sometimes known as the Museum of Contemporary Art in Budapest is a museum I came across by picking up one of those mini cards from the hotel I was staying in last year in June. Although I am a graphic artist myself I have to say that I am not overly keen on visiting art galleries or exhibitions. The main reason being I find a lot of galleries very stuffy, pretentious and too silent. I am often disappointed by seeing great pieces of work by famous artists. They don't seem to live up to their reputations.
The Ludwig Museum is the only gallery/museum in Hungary to exhibit International work. The museum was opened by the cultural government of Hungary in 1989. Irene and Peter Ludwig donated 70 pieces of contemporary work and later other pieces were donated by friends of the museum. The museum is advertised as housing permanent collections of American pop art, German, French and Italian Trans-avant-garde, Hungarian art in the 1990's and snapshots of the contemporary art scene. With this in mind I thought I would take a chance on visiting as I am a great fan of Andy Warhol.
To reach the museum take Tram 2 and get off at Vagohid stop which will take you to the Palace of the Arts near to the Lagymanyosi Bridge. The Ludwig Museum is housed in this spectacular building with glass windows reflecting other buildings in the courtyard and picking up sparkling reflections from the River Danube. The museum is an extremely large building which adjoins the Hungarian National Gallery.
Inside on the ground floor is a spacious foyer which interconnects with not only the three floors of exhibition space but to other cultural and artistic events. Here, you will have to purchase a ticket for the cloakroom as coats, hats and umbrellas are not allowed in the museum. There are automatic lockers which you can use at the cost of 100 (26p) Hungarian Forints. Otherwise there is a cloakroom behind the information desk.
The ground floor space is quite empty except for the P'art Coffee House and the odd statue and sculpture laid around. The coffee house is a funky little area with walls displaying wallpaper designed byTams Komorczky. Lots of black, grey and white swirling wheels on a pale yellow background. Tables and chairs are in 70's style - glass and teak. The atmosphere was calm, pleasant and had a traditional Hungarian feel. There is a huge staircase leading to the other floors. At the time of our visit it was reasonably quiet with only school groups wandering around with their teachers.
My first impression was that the acoustics were full of echoes and you can hear people mooching around on the other floors so even though I don't like silence the noise of high heels and people moving around disturbed my equilibrium a little. I also thought the owners of the museum hadn't made the best of the space provided which was expansive. Large areas had bare walls when other wall spaces were packed. All walls were blazing white with windows at the sides and in the rooftop so the light quality was superb.
I was disappointed with the collections - there was only one Warhol - a single Elvis which he painted in 1964. It's the one of a young Elvis stood with a gun in his hand. It was in black and white too - would have been nice to have seen the coloured version where he is wearing a red shirt, brown jeans on a turquoise background. The collection of works from the 60s and 70s pop culture like Roy Lichenstein, Robert Rauschenburg and Claes Oldenburg were interesting but the literature the museum provided about the artists was a bit pretentious and rather boring.
I did find one painting that I wasn't expecting and that was by David Hockney. It was his Contre-jour in the French Style - 'Against the Day dans le style Francais' which was painted in 1983. From a distance the painting looks good but close up it is quite bad and the brush strokes are rough and harsh.
The artistic highlights for me were seeing Lichenstein's Vicky, Matador and Nude Woman (Picasso), Work in Progress by Kicsiny Balzs and my favourite piece of work of all - Landscape #4 by Tom Wesselmann.
Other highlights of the building were the CD shop and bookshop. The bookshop is a large area displaying books on shelves and long tables. Here there are a lot of books about Hungarian art and some of the artists whose work was displayed in the museum. I could have spent a fortune here but unfortunately there was no way I could have taken all the books I wanted back on the plane. A lot of the publications were in Hungarian but some had been translated into other languages. Apart from art publications there were other pieces of literature, limited editions of photographs and screen prints as well as postcards.
The shop selling CD's is situated on the third floor and covers an extensive range of jazz, world music, folk, classical and opera. Recordings in various formats of performing artists who have appeared at the Palace are available as are tapes and CD's for children including storytelling and poetry.
There is a reference library on the second floor - a very cosy, quiet area with stacks and stacks of shelving and zany orange bean bags to sit on. Obviously books cannot be taken out but if you are interested in International and Hungarian art after 1945 then this is the place to be. The most interesting part of the collection for me was the exhibition catalogues.
Internet can be found in the reading room - I think two terminals are available for use.
Now to the cost of entering this museum of contemporary art. Admission costs 900 Hungarian Forints which is approximately 2.40. This price covers two admissions. If you want to buy a ticket for all the exhibitions the price is 1,300 (3.50) Hungarian Forints.
There are discounts for students if a student ID card is shown - up to 50%.
Also for European citizens between the ages of 6 and 26, 62 and 70 years.
If you have a Budapest card you will get a reduction of 20% and adult visitors with a mini card like the one I had - a discount of 10%.
There is a lift in operation and the exhibition areas are large and spacious so I don't see any problems for disabled access.
For group and other reductions take a look at the web site:- http://www.ludwigmuseum.hu/site.php?inc=0&menu Id=23&tartalom=txt
If you are in Budapest and in this vicinity then the Ludwig Museum is worth popping by and into. The Palace of the Arts as the building housing the museum is a stunning piece of work. The exhibition space on three floors is admirable and I would love to hang some of my work on those white walls with the sun shining through the roof and windows. The only downside for me was the actual exhibition pieces. Apart from the odd Picasso, Lichenstein and Wesselmann I found the other paintings rather drab.
The cafe serves delicious coffee and the bagels are delicious too. Tams Komorczky's wallpaper isn't bad either. Pretty funky!