The Ethnographic/Anthropological Collection
Mór Wosinsky not only founded, but also continously developed the collection of the museum. Shortly after the Millennium Festivities, with an important Australian and New-Guinean collection, he set up the overseas ethnographical department of the museum. In 1900, together with the Museum Association, he organized a trip to the Sárköz area, where he combined the study of the peasants’ life with collecting folk art objects. He invited the village instructors to collect folksongs. It is a pity that it was only Ferenc Bocskár, instructor from Öcsény, who sent his collection of more than 300 items, the musical material being recorded on phonograph cylindres by Wosinsky in the same year. A proof of his multilateral range of interest was the fact that following János Jankó‘s guidance, the anthropological study of the population of the county began.
Amid the scientific work he also found the time to raise the funds necessary for the erection of a museum building, which he actually came to build in a the neo-classical style. The new museum opened for the public in 1901. Then he created the departement of applied art (arts and crafts) – mostly including objects related to the guilds, and he had even published a yearbook before his unexpected death. At that time, the custodian of the Department of Ethnology hosting 3629 objects was Aladár Kovách (1860-1930).
An archivist himself, Aladár Kovách joined the museum in 1901, and in 1913 he was appointed honorary county chief archivist. He was known as “the lover of the Sárköz”, and, indeed, he considered the salvation of the traditional knowledge and material world of the people of the Sárköz his top priority. Most of his studies were dedicated to the material culture, with a thoroughness and soundness in his approach, worthwhile being followed as an example by the specialists of today, too. Until his death in 1930, he had been at the top the museum leadership. As for the development of the highly valuable collection from before the World War I, important merits had high school teacher of drawing, Lipót Ács, the head of the museum József Csalog, archeologist, and János Jankó who, as an external collaborator not only helped with his advices the boosting ethnographical research, but he also took part personally in the field work.
World War II produced great losses in the collections of the museum. According to the report dated 1946 and drafted by József Novák (leader of the institution between 1946-1951) “the furniture of the museum was destroyed, as well as most of its collections. An especially great loss was that of the natural history department (99,5 %), of the the numismatic and the ethnographic collections“. Under the management of the prehistoric archeologist, Gyula Mészáros (1951-1974), the economic boom of the 1970s created the possibility to set up a new job within the Dept. of Ethnography. Thus, since 1972 the collecting activity in this department was done by two specialists, the ethnographic objects counting 11.340 pieces in 1987. Bertalan Andrásfalvy (the collaborator of the Dept. of Ethnography between 1955-1960, later the first Minister of Culture in the post-Communist Hungary), as well as his successor, Ms Jolán Babus – had outstanding merits in the re-creation of the ethnographical collection. There were three specialists in ethnology working in the museum between 1975-1980, namely Miklós Szilágyi, director of the museum, Mrs Mária Gémesné Vámos and Balázs Gémes.
The Museal Organization of Tolna County has the following structure: the mother institution in Szekszárd that is in charge with the entire county, operating with one specialist in ethnology and one custodian of the store. The network of local museums in Szakály, Sióagárd, Nagymányok, Bátaszék, Alsónyék is also part of the system. Of course, we have several private and local history collections, too, in our inventory. And there are specialists licensed in ethnology working in the town museums of Bonyhád and Paks.
The second biggest collection from among the collections of our museum as far as the number of exhibits is being concerned is the ethnographic department. Apart from the objects (18,101) the data base of 958 items, 48,846 photographs, 10,640 negatives, 2,984 photographs of objects, 1,324 slide positives and 702 documents make make its treasure.
The most valuable part of our ethnigraphical material is undoubtably the textile collection. Before the war its greatest part was the Sárköz material, even today the 200 pieces of bonnets and 70 purple ends are remarkable. We are now trying to fill in the gaps to be found in the materials of other ethnographic groups. The number of the textiles purchased from the “Bukovina szekler” cultural group is especially high. The woollen homespuns and different embroidered leather garments are the most valuable of them all.
Our collection of painted peasant furniture consisting mainly of benches, beds, buffet tables, chairs, chests etc. from Váralja, Fadd, Harta etc. is also significant.
The collection of ceramics is made up of aprox. 1,500 pieces. Of special value are are among them the so-called “Sárköz” and late haban groups, but the importance of the black vessels is also significant. The latter were made mostly in Mohács and Bátaszék. From among our local ensembles of objects, those deposited in the local museums are of outstanding scientific value.
Our ethnographical data base was set up in 1973. An important part of it consists of the material sent for the National Ethnographic and Dialectological Contest, its territorial dispersion is quite random, its scientific value is approximative. Another greater group is the one consisting of graduation treatises, of which the most important ones are the papers on the Sárköz region, as well as the ones on the Bukovina székely (szekler) group. The legacy of Jolán Babus is of great scientific value.
Our photo collection was created in 1954. The baseline was made up of the pictures taken in that very epoch and of the surviving parts of the naterial from the pre-war period. At first it was a mixed collection. The distribution according to the different scientific categories was done in 1974. In the mid ’70es there were initiated separate registries for the negatives, the negatives of the pictures showing ethnographic objects, and the slides. The most valuable items in this unit are the pictures taken in the early 1900s (by Aladár Kovách, Zsigmond Bátky), as well as the ones pinning up with the due documentation the peasant architecture of the Kapos valley.