LUMÚ - Ludwig Museum, Budapest

Komor Marcell utca 1 [map]
Pest South, IX
Millenniumi Kulturális Központ (T2,24), 1 min
Lágymányosi híd (HÉV), 1 min
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There's something encouraging about arriving at an art museum and finding a tango class in the courtyard. I can't help smiling as they dance between the oddly-placed pillars. Already, the Ludwig museum feels refreshing, and happily, this is only the start of it.

In fact, this whole MŰPA/LUMÚ end of town really seems to be forging ahead in a welcome direction. It provides a new angle on the city and a reason to travel as far south as Lágymányosi híd, the southernmost of the city's bridges. Looking up the river from the top of a short but Babel-like tower, I can still see the statue on Gellert Hill, which proves that I'm in Budapest despite the alien surroundings.

The main building, the "Palace of Arts" is shared by art galleries, to the right, Concert Hall and Festival Theatre, to the left. Make sure you take a wander around: design is apparent throughout in ergonomic curves and thoughtful use of space.

The term 'modern art' is a little over-stretched, encompassing at least a century of vastly differing styles. (That anyone should take a dig at modern art as a whole is the kind of stupidity you can only admire.) The Ludwig's own collection embraces movements from the sixties to the end of the nineties. A couple of late Picassos mingle with Warhol's Single Elvis and the dynamic man-and-paint explosions of Hajas Tibor; to name but a few. The collection is usually confined to the third floor but sometimes breaks loose into the temporary galleries.

Temporary exhibitions are also focussed on contemporary art, usually but not exclusively with links to Central and Eastern Europe. In 2008, these include photography and installations from Bosnian-born Braco Dimitrijevic; environmental, conceptual works from Agnes Denes; a whole host of Fluxus artists; and Keith Haring's pop-graffiti. (Full schedule here.)

Leaving the museum with a head full of ideas, I turned back towards the little tower of Babel, noticing the door for the first time. The tower is bigger on the inside, the entrance starting about halfway up a spiral walkway. A host of little twilight rooms exhibit contemporary applied arts: from strange pottery to warped fashions. I couldn’t predict the next room’s contents if I tried.

It's surprises like this that complete the Ludwig museum: capturing the imagination rather than expecting the exhibits themselves to do all the work. Refreshing indeed.

The Palace of Arts/Ludwig Museum is by the Danube in the south part of Pest, right next to
Lágymányosi híd. From the city, take either the number 2 tram, which runs along the Danube, or alternatively the HÉV from Boráros tér, one stop in a Csepel direction. From other parts of the city, the 24 and 1 tram are also an option.
Andy Sz.



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