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Birth of a Royal Library




The exhibition was organised on the subject of the Bibliothequa Corvina of King Mathias in the Hungarian National Library. The focus was on the complex set of tasks regarding the bookmaking workshop of the royal court of Buda in the 15th Century. The curator, Edina Zsupans aim was to create a picture of the Buda workshop for the first time, and thus to place our knowledge on the Corvina Library on completely new foundations. The aim in term of design was to create an elegant environment for the stunning books, which helps visitors to take in the Curators message for people from general public to researchers.



Upon arrival, a giant curved panel was placed with general introduction. The curves of the panel visually referred the viewers to vellum, the material that medieval manuscripts were written on. A similar interim space was placed on the way out of the exhibition rooms, a so-called Library. At the heart of the exhibition, in 3 rooms, 67 codices were exhibited.  Thus, we aimed to design a visitor journey that resonates the theme of the exhibition: Birth of a Royal Library.

Unique properties

The venue is unique, as the exhibition was held in a library building.  Corvinas were brought together from different parts of the world, Paris,

New York, Leipzig, Vatican, Vienna etc  and exhibited among the ones treasured in Hungary for a relatively short period of time, so a large

number of visitors were expected with a very different background knowledge on the subject.




The request was to use the 3 upper floor rooms of the large, prestigious building for the exhibition. These rooms were very diverse in term of

interior finishes, so a secondary wall was built in each three, and a new floor was placed to create an integrated exhibition space. By utilising

the entry and the staircase area, as well as the upper floor lobby, visitors were led to the exhibition as soon as entering the building. Also, noisy parts of the exhibition could be brought out of the tranquil exhibition rooms. The photo point and the museum pedagogy counter was placed in the upper floor lobby. The total area of the journey was appr. 400 m2. Because of the relatively short time the exhibition was open, all materials had to be chosen accordingly. Meanwhile, protection of the codices was priority. Formaldehyde free MDF, water-based paint was used to create the showcases. All lamps were adjustable individually, so the max. 50 lux amount of light could be achieved on each book. The individual lighting of each book was very important, as this way books were almost floating in space, as opposed to being placed in evenly lit showcases. Each room was equipped with a large touch screen, so visitors could turn the pages of the books virtually and submit a quiz. A sound point was installed, where visitors could listen to the content of the scripts translated from Latin and Greek to Hungarian and English. Modest graphic on the showcase background and light paintings on the floor were used to decorate the rooms.

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