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History of the Central Library

2016-03-08 16:21:36

The Central Library

The main building of the Metropolitan Ervin Szabó Library is the one-time Wenckheim Palace. It was built by Count Frigyes Wenckheim (1842 – 1912), a well-known aristocrat of the end of the 19th century, the owner of a vast estate with the membership of the Parliament. He was a remarkable builder possessing country houses and a palace in Pest.




The Wenckheim Palace was built by Arthur Meinig (1853-1904) a specialist of country houses from Saxony. The Palace was one of his outstanding achievements, the masterpiece of Hungarian Neo-Baroque architecture. The domical roof of the building is decorated by the coat-of-arms of the Wenckheims above the main cornice and by a nine-point crown on the top. (See more details under the title „The Neo-Baroque Palace”)

After the count’s death the palace remained the property of the Wenckheim family for 15 years. Confusion started in 1919. First the building became the Association of Joiners, then the Museum of the Proletariat. Later, clubs of some groups of society (political parties, journalists etc) used the stately building.
The City Council purchased the building in 1927. After the four-year reconstruction, the library was opened in 1931.

The main alterations are the followings:

  • the living and service rooms were turned into stacks and offices;

  • the Large Ballroom into a reading room,

  • the dining room into the Periodical Reading Room;

  • catalogues were put into the Small Ballroom;

  • the function of the Saloon and the boudoirs has changed several times.



The Central Library was reconstructed between 1998 and 2001. As the result of the reconstruction, in the gate of the 21st century, a modern metropolitan library was created both in function and services.

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