History of the Library

The Library was founded by the first director of the museum, Zoltán Felvinczi Takács, in 1919. The museum’s library was built around Ferenc Hopp’s personal collection of books comprising of about seventy volumes. His original will was to build not only a museum of East Asiatic art, but also a research institute, an integral part of which must be a scientific library to serve the wider public as well as researchers. Up to this day it is also Hungary’s only library specialising in oriental art.

Many of the volumes in Hopp’s possession were connected to Asia, although those specifically concerned with geography were donated by their owner to the Hungarian Geographical Society.

Zoltán Felvinczi Takács expanded the library substantially thanks to his personal contacts with people who took a keen interest in the continent, especially orientalists, explorers, and collectors.

In exchange for the foreign-language articles he wrote, Felvinczi Takács would often ask to be paid in books and periodicals to add to the collection. He also strove to acquire the legacies of noted scholars, the most significant of which was that of the physician, Dr Antal Velics (1855–1915), whose collection of works on oriental linguistics was donated to the museum by his heirs in 1919.

After the establishment of the museum, the Library belonged under the scientific supervision and enjoyed the support of the Museum of Fine Arts. Since its earliest days, the Hopp Museum Library has been augmented by gifts from a number of sources. In 1937, the National Hungarian Museum of Fine Arts made its first donation of books on Asiatic arts and its generous contributions of this kind continue to the present day. Sadly, during World War II, both the art collection and the library suffered substantially from theft and vandalism. In 1950 the Hopp Museum was reorganised as branch of the Museum of Applied Arts. From this time on, as an official institution with a regular annual budget, it had the means to embark on conscious expansion. In 2014, the Ferenc Hopp Museum of Asiatic Arts once again came under the administration of the Museum of Fine Arts.


Among the most valuable of the self-contained collections of the Library are those of Aurél Stein (1862–1943), later Sir Marc Aurel Stein, world-famous archaeologist, linguist, and researcher of Inner Asia, and an external member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences; Dr Tibor Horváth (1910–1972), orientalist and archaeologist, whose books on Japanese art were mostly purchased in Japan; and the private library of Ervin Baktay (1890–1963), art historian, orientalist, and painter. The library recently acquired a substantial part of the collection of Japanese language and art-related books owned by the economist, Katalin Ferber (1952–), and many books on Indian and Japanese art from the private library of the foreign affairs expert, Péter Kós (1921–1994). One of the most precious sections within the library’s holdings comprises almost a hundred Tibetan manuscripts and woodblock prints, most of which are ceremonial texts dedicated to various protective deities. certain volumes from the library occasionally go on public display at exhibitions.


Out of almost 40,000 books and periodicals in the library’s collection, only about 3% are in Hungarian, with the overwhelming majority published in various foreign languages, including all the major European languages and many from the Asian continent. Since the aim of the Library was to collect books covering a large scope of artistic fields from the very start of its foundation, literature on a variety of topics can be found here.