Displaying the Periphery: The Upper-Hungarian Museum and the Politics of Regional Museums in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy

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The Upper-Hungarian Museum of Kassa/Kaschau/Košice was established in 1872 as one of the many ambitious, but severely underfunded regional museums coming into being in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. This article examines how the museum negotiated the delicate balance between maintaining good relations with the capital for the sake of survival and following its own local agenda. It discusses the history of the institution in the context of the complex political and administrative structure of Austria-Hungary, as an example of the dynamics between the Monarchy’s “centers” and “peripheries”. After 1867, Hungary’s governments took the course of centralization, curtailing the political agency of the counties, while increasingly forcing non-Hungarian speakers in multi-ethnic regions such as Upper Hungary to adopt the Hungarian language. The article examines the museum’s place in these processes, arguing that, rather than simply disseminating the narratives of the centre, the museum conceptualised its own role in a more autonomous and multi-faceted way. Finally, it seeks to use the museum as an example of the “periphery” as an autonomous entity, and to question the usefulness of a simple binary of centre and periphery in researching Austro-Hungarian culture.


Original languageEnglish
JournalVisual Resources
Early online date2 Jul 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Jul 2018


  • museums , collecting , Austria-Hungary , Hungary , nineteenth century , nationalism , regionalism , Kassa/Kaschau/Košice , center and periphery