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The History of Déri Museum – 90 years Old

The Treaty of Trianon was signed in the Grand Trianon Palace in Versailles on June 4th, 1920 and as the result of it, not only was a significant part of Hungary was annexed but also universities and more than sixty of the museums “moved” outside the country, in an instant, together with their invaluable art treasures.

The period between June 4, 1920 and May 25, 1930 was key in the cultural life of Debrecen. It was a time when the whole country was paralyzed by the loss caused by the Treaty of Trianon.  It was during this period of cultural instability that the leadership of Debrecen decided to build an educational and a cultural institution: Tisza István University and Déri Museum. 

Frigyes Déri, ​​a manufacturer and art collector, chose Debrecen as the location of the museum presenting his collection; he donated his significant collection to the museum in 1920. His support not only covered the donation of his collection but he also allocated a significant amount for the construction.

Deri Museum

However, Déri believed that building a museum only made sense if it was located in the city center. This is how the choice fell on the former Herb Garden (Füvészkert).

The foundation stone was laid in the framework of a huge ceremony, which was attended by Frigyes Déri, Count Kunó Klebelsberg (Minister of Culture), dr. Elemér Czakó (State Secretary), dr. Ferenc Orsós (Rector of Tisza István University) and many more.

Plans change, on one occasion in December 1923 at the meeting of the construction committee city leaders requested “change the museum and its interior to meet the aspects of science and good taste”.

Many years of work followed the ceremony and the museum building was finally able to welcome visitors with a rich exhibition of cultural history on 25 May 1930.

Unfortunately, many participants of the re-building did not live to see the final work; so it was a painful loss that Frigyes Déri himself could not be present to witness it either. Yet his wishes have come to pass, his collection has become a vital part of Debrecen’s cultural life over the past 90 years – and will no doubt remain so for many years to come.

The Déri Museum is one of the most popular tourist destinations of Debrecen, Hajdú-Bihar County, and the region, and offers visitors many permanent and temporary exhibitions. 

Visitors can enjoy the following exhibitions among others throughout the year-long:

  •  “Inhabitants of the Starry Sky” – The archeological exhibition exhibits findings recovered from areas of Hajdú-Bihar County.
  • Samurai Courthouse – It is one of the most significant Japanese collections in Hungary
  • History of Weapons – It shows different types of weapons including the weapons of Christian Europe, lassic Muslim weapons, and the weapons of the Far East.
  • The  Old Gallery – It showcases paintings from the 17th to 19th century
  • Déri Memorial Hall
  • The Christ Trilogy – It showcases the  famous Christ-series consists of three monumental paintings Mihály Munkácsy
  • The Great Forest  – It provides visitors with an in-depth glimpse into the present and past of the Great Forest of Debrecen 
  • Debrecen Underneath – It shows everyday objects that were excavated from more than twenty premises in Debrecen in the past twelve years.

Full list of permanent exhibitions can be seen here >>>