The Viski Károly Museum Kalocsa is the country museum of the Region called the Muddy Region of Kalocsa (i. e. Kalocsai Sárköz). Its field of collecting highlights the former Kalocsa, Homokmégy, Drágszél, Öregcsertő, Szakmár, Újtelek.
The exhibition spot which was established on the corridor of the town hall by Mayor Sándor Antalffy, Canon Dr Ferenc Kujáni and painter-artist Lajos Gábor on 2nd June 1932 was the legal predecessor of the Museum. It was Ernő Laszczik who reorganized the collection after the ravages of the war. In 1963 it was taken over by the County Council and it became part of the county museum organization. In 1970 the Town and County Council decided to develop the Kalocsa collection of ethnography and local history into a separate country museum. On 1st November 1970 the Downtown Elementary School was opened to function as a museum. During the four decades of its existence the museum accumulated rich collections under the leadership of managing directors Sarolta Pécsiné Ács, Dr. János Bárth and Imre Romsics.
The Kalocsai Sárköz forms a kind of transition between Transdanubia and the Great Plain. River Danube was the link between the two regions and their dwellers. Its historical significance is also due to these geographical conditions, therefore the Kalocsa Sárköz is very rich in archaeological finds, historical and ethnographic reminiscence.
The museum articles and documents are sorted and preserved in six collections and four auxiliary collections.
The multicoloured ethnographic collection consists of 7000 items including textiles, furniture, crockery, archive photographs, handy devices made of wood, bulrush, iron, glass, etc. The textile collection is the most precious and interesting part of the exhibition material, as it has preserved articles of the Kalocsa folk art and folk costumes from different historical periods from the middle of the 19th century to nowadays.
During the recent decade numerous archaeological excavations have been done in the Museum's field of collecting. The most remarkable ones include the public cemetery in Homokmégy-Székes (from the 10th – 11th century) and the cemetery near Harta-Freifelt which dates back to the Hungarian Conquest. The runic bone sheet from the same period and the articles unearthed in the Avar cemetery near Homokmégy-Halom are also outstanding parts of our finds.
The size of the historical collection is not that big however it contains a large number of precious articles, such as waffle-iron from 1770 Homokmégy, the second oldest church-bell of Kalocsa from 1729, the money chest of Kalocsa town from 1837, and etching depicting the view of Kalocsa from the early 19th century, a spear made of wrought iron from the 1848 War of Independence (Drágszél).
The collection of historical archives includes old photographs, magazines, newspapers and various prints, most of which are the reminiscence of local history. The fine arts are not represented in our collection, therefore we only preserve works of local significance by Péter Prokop, Károly Rökk, Lajos r. Gábor, Péter Benedek, József d. Pintér, János Kollár, Imre Vinczellér, Márta Rideg, István Kiss, Lajos Dargay, Béla Szebényi, Tibor Farkas.
Most of the photographs forming the photographic collection of the museum were taken by ethnographers János Bárth and Imre Romsics during their collecting and musicological work. In addition to them the collection of old slides and negatives must also be mentioned.
The were made by Mariska Travnik, Dezső Bogdán, Józsefné Cselényi, Lajos Gábor, Iván Solymár, József Szittyavári, Ernő Vadas, Dezső Madarász, Ákos Lovassy, Sándor Dinnyés, Simon Urbán, Endre Csincsák, Dezső Bogdán, István Rechner and their number is 3588 altogether. In 2004 the museum purchased the life-work of painter and photographer László Kovács which includes 16 000 pictures.
The Viski Károly Museum opened its three permanent exhibitions which – despite their ages – can provide our visitors unforgettable experiences.
The exhibition called "Nations, Lifestyles, Traditions in the Kalocsa Sárköz" presents the life and culture of ethnic groups living in the Kalocsai Sárköz between the 18th and 20th century. Everyday life and history appear together in the exhibition halls. As the display focuses on the development of country life in the successive historical periods and it follows the tradition of ones specific ethnic group called "Potas", its theme is illustrated and expressed mainly by ethnographic articles.
The exhibition called "The Minerals and Life" demonstrates the collection of minerals which was established in the former Jesuit Grammar School of Kalocsa. The minerals with the original labels are stored in original furniture according to the arrangement of the early 20th century exhibition which recalls the first mineralogical display of the Hungarian National Museum annihilated a long time ago. Similar collections are preserved by the National Museum in Prague and Vienna. The most respectable technician of the laboratory was mineralogist Professor Mike Tóth, a monk teacher of the Jesuit Grammar School. The present collection of minerals were placed in the furniture designed by him.
"The Kalocsa Medal Cabinet" – the collection – which includes 11 000 coins nowadays – was badly damaged during World War II, but following the years of nationalization it was preserved and rescued from scattering by the staff of the Grammar School. In 1979 the collection, which consisted of nearly 8500 coins at the time, was handed over to Viski Károly Museum. Despite the fact that it was mutilated, it can still demonstrate the richness of the former secondary school collection.
The Museum has also published a great number of books due to support and cooperation of the Kalocsa Society of Museum Friends. So far three series of books have been published called "Essays of the Kalocsa Museum", "Publications of the Kalocsa Museum", "The Minor Library of the Kalocsa Museum".
The Viski Károly Museum Kalocsa expends great care on providing appropriate storing conditions for its collections, The extension plan of the Museum had been finalized by the end of 2004.
In 2003 the Viski Károly Museum was awarded the title "The Museum of the Year 2002" for its achievement in the field of museology.
F. k.: Romsics Imre múzeumigazgató