The Tokaj Museum is located in two buildings in the heart of Tokaj. The museums complement each other perfectly with their two differing styles of exhibition. While the World Heritage Wine Museum employs 21st-century equipment to invite visitors to active participation, the Tokaj Museum offers a traditional atmosphere in which to walk around and loose yourself in the exhibits. Those interested in the history of the town – and indeed of the wine region – are sure of a pleasant way to spend time, guaranteed with rich experiences.
The Tokaj Museum (Bethlen Gábor út 5.) has been open since May 1985, although the collection and the life of the museum was already on show long before that. The Greek Orthodox church became its first home in 1962. Then in 1974 the material presenting the history of Tokaji wine moved to a centuries-old cellar opposite. Its current venue is the Greek merchant house on the main square of Tokaj, a building which fulfils all the needs of the museum that shows the history of Tokaj town with archaeological finds and varied themed collections.
The extremely well-designed and beautifully constructed house was built around 1790 by the Karácsony family of Greek heritage and in the 19th century passed into the possession of Szaszaráths, another leading Tokaji merchant family. Stunning murals adorn the walls inside. The panorama picture in ground-floor study makes you feel like you are walking along the bank of the river Tisza two hundred years ago.
Even the uninitiated eye easily sees the luxury of the merchant’s life: the great hall upstairs in the central avant-corps of the facade combines the characteristic Copf ornamentation of the age with distinctive eastern flavours. Exotic, figures in kaftans and turbans process above the parapet.
The exhibitions have “grown” to match the beauty of the museum building. Their diversity presents the thousand-year history of the town and its surroundings in great detail, and much more …
In accordance with the traditions of the region, an extensive cellar system lies under the former residential building. Here the military order of the barrels waiting to be transported, the various presses, the harvesting tools and the aszú berry sorter are bound to catch your attention.
The courtyard, which is planted with local plants and functions as an outdoor exhibition of carved stone, invites you to relax. After refreshing moments here, you can continue your visit to the two exhibition halls on the ground floor, where the flora and fauna of Tokaj come to life. Discover the history of the little-known ruined Tokaj castle and see archaeological finds of its excavation.
Period-furnished rooms on the first floor provide an insight into the everyday life of the merchant family, and the rooms next to the salon hold the unique ecclesiastical collections with liturgical and other objects collected by the Tokaj parish priest Béla Béres and donated to the museum in 1981. The exhibition is a varied collection of objects that represent Baroque ecclesiastical art in northern Hungary (paintings, corpus collections, crafts). The around 150 liturgical artefacts provide a comprehensive picture of Byzantine heritage in Hungary.
The recently re-opened attic space is a real attraction. Its special feature is the enormous central chimney with several flues, which unfolds in front of the visitor in its sculptural beauty. The ethnographic exhibition covers the entire territory of Kingdom of Hungary. The chests, ceramics, textiles and folk objects on display are also a real “treasure attic”. Even for researchers.
The Tokaj Museum is a cornerstone of the diverse cultural life in Tokaj. Together with the World Heritage Wine Museum, they are a unique attraction.