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The “Incze László” Museum of Guilds' History in Kézdivásárhely

Museum organising has great traditions in Kézdivásárhely. The first museum of the city was founded by a local attorney, Dr. Ödön Diénes Ikafalvi (1874–1936), following eighteen years of collecting, and its opening took place on September 4 1932 in a first floor room of the Elisabeth Educational Institute for Orphan Girls. After the decease of the founder, his brother, Dr. Jenő Diénes Ikafalvi (1876–1946) took over the responsibilities of the curator. This collection of 20 000 items was supported by the Casino, but for lack of space it had to be closed in the autumn of 1938, then in 1941 it had to be moved out of the Institute. The collections were packed into boxes and deposited in two small rooms of the people’s academy. World War II and the following socialist era caused the dispersion of the collection.

The times following the war have not been appropriate to the founding of a museum for quite a while. The occasion came only in the year 1969. Then, at the 120th commemoration of the death of Áron Gábor on the initiative of the Cultural Council of Kovászna County together with the Kovászna County Museum (the name at the time of the Székely National Museum) a permanent exhibition was opened – mostly from the material of the museum – in two rooms of the Turóczi House standing on the plot of the former cannon manufactory. In one of the rooms an exhibition of 1848–1849 was organized, while in the other mementoes of local guild life and industrial association were exposed. This has become the basis for the museum of Kézdivásárhely.

After the opening of the museum it appeared that there was still a lot of material in the property of the local craftsmen and their descendants. For collecting and exhibiting these mementoes, a local history teacher was appointed, László Incze (1928–2007). In the autumn of 1970 he was named the museologist and head of department at the permanent exhibition at the Turóczi House. In 1971, the newly founded unit of the museum was given the building of the former Council House (1857–1968), so the collecting activity could be fastened up. At the same time the building was rearranged according to the requirements of modern museology.

The present museum of Kézdivásárhely was opened on March 3 1972 as a unit of the Kovászna County Museum. Officially it bears the name Museum of Guilds’ History only since 2002; however, László Incze considered himself the curator of the museum of the guilds’ history already in 1971, collecting objects accordingly. As homage to him, in 2012, at the 40th anniversary of the museum, our institution has taken the name of its founder.

The objective of the “Incze László” Museum of Guilds’ History is to present the material of the local craftsmanship and guilds, alongside the bourgeois culture rooted in it. We give a special attention to the preservation of the material and spiritual heritage of the 1848–1849 War of Independence as well. It is also important for us to preserve and expose the doll collection of traditional costumes.

1. Guild and handicraft collection

The collection of guild and industrial association material exposed in the eight rooms on the ground floor is the one that gives the name of our museum. The tools, the mementoes of the guilds and associations were almost entirely donated by the inhabitants of Kézdivásárhely. This material is far from being complete, first because at the founding of the museum most of it was already destroyed, second because those still practicing those occupations at that time did not give their objects to the museum. The missing material was completed with items from the Székely National Museum.

Of the eleven trades organized into guilds we were able to organize an exhibition for nine. In the five rooms situated right by the entrance, we can find the material of the potters, boot-makers, shoemakers, tawers, furriers, blacksmiths, and locksmiths. To the left we have three rooms with exhibitions of the gingerbread-makers, butchers, hat-makers, joiners, and tailors.

The oldest guild occupation in the city was that of the tawers. Their guild was founded in 1572, and the occupation survived until the beginning of the 20th century. At the organization of the museum there were no tawers left in the city, so the exhibited items arrived to the museum through their descendants.

The guild of the boot-makers separated from that of the tawers in 1638. This occupation disappeared in 1947. In the 19th century the shoemakers founded their own organization, separate from the boot-makers. At the founding of the museum there were still some elder representatives of this occupation, who gave a hand in collecting the tools and guild mementoes. The exhibited products were also made by them.

At Kézdivásárhely the occupations related to skin processing were very important, therefore the furriers also founded their guild in 1649. This was also an occupation that disappeared, but there were a few representatives in the 1970s, which helped us in collecting a significant material.

The potters founded their guild in 1649. This occupation disappeared in 1966, with the decease of the last master, Bálint Szász. The exhibited tools were brought in by his family, while the pottery and guild objects were results of the collecting activity of the Székely National Museum. The first four guilds of the 16th and 17th centuries were followed by new ones only in the first part of the 19th century. The saddlers founded their own guild in 1807, but they are not represented in any exhibition because of the very few objects that we have about them. Another guild was founded in 1809 by the butchers, an occupation that can be observed within the exhibition. However, we do not have too many of their tools in our collection.

The other occupations founded their guild later on, more precisely in the early 1840s. The organization of the tailors took place in 1841, leaving very few mementoes, such as guild documents and some parts of the workshop. But we were able to complete this collection thanks to the research on bourgeois garments.

In 1844 only four occupations received a document of guild privilege: the joiners, the hatters, the blacksmiths–locksmiths, and the braziers.

The joiners had to face the demands of bourgeois endeavours; with the raise of their numbers, they founded their organization to represent their interests. Besides the mementoes of the guild, our museum hosts lots of tools and products, mostly donations.

The hatter was also a trade functioning within the organized framework of the guild. Its last representative was József Kovács, who passed away in the second part of the 1990s. The museum has to thank him for the exhibited workshop interior and hats.

The blacksmiths, locksmiths, gunsmiths, and tin-makers founded a common guild. The workshop arranged within the exhibition features mostly items donated by the blacksmith’s of Oroszfalu. This occupation disappeared from Kézdivásárhely in 1989, with the dissolving of the local cooperative.

The braziers were organized into a guild in 1844. In spite of the fact that the occupation played an important role in the local combats from the 1848–1849 War of Independence, the collection that we have about this trade is quite poor. Therefore they are not represented in the permanent exhibition.

2. Collection of local history

Because of the small number of objects, the exhibition of local history and of 1848–1849 features mostly documentation through photographs. The history of Kézdivásárhely can be followed since 1407. Besides the documents concerning the city rank and the rights to have fairs, this exhibition hosts privilege letters of guilds, weapons of old times, information regarding the leadership of the city, and documents about local architectural specificities.

The most important event in the history of the city was the Hungarian Revolution and War of Independence from 1848–1849. Within the collection of local history this material is shown in the exhibition rooms. There are not too many objects, but they are interesting, such as the weapons from the Székely National Museum, the reconstruction of the portrait of Áron Gábor, a scale-model of a cannon of those times, a desk and closet made by Áron Gábor himself.

3. Zsuzsi and Andris in traditional costume

A permanent exhibition includes a doll-size collection of traditional costumes called Zsuzsi and Andris in traditional costume. The costumes were made by Hungarian children from Romania as the result of a public appeal launched by the magazine Jóbarát in 1970–1971. This collection can be seen in our museum partially since 1974, and completely since 1995. Starting with the summer of 2001, 247 of the 352 pieces can be admired arranged in three rooms.

4. Collection of volunteer firemen

In 1992 our museum was given the equipment of the local volunteer firemen. Through this we experienced a significant expanding of the collection of local history. The fire engines of those times can be observed in the outdoor exhibition arranged in the yard of our museum.

5. Temporary exhibitions

Since the opening of the museum, the former council hall hosts temporary exhibitions of fine art or professional issues. Starting with December 2007 the hall bears the name of the former curator, László Incze. In the last years there have been more than 200 exhibitions featuring the works of more than 100 artists. The 500 items donated by them forms the actual fine art collection of the museum.

On 1 April 2015 MAGMA Contemporary Art Space from Sfântu Gheorghe celebrated its 5 years anniversary. During these five years we have collaborated with around 250 artists, art theorists, philosophers, etc. and together we contributed to what MAGMA is today.[ details ]
MAGMA Contemporary Art Space from Sfântu Gheorghe cordially invites you to the opening of the group exhibition Examples for Non-universal Chair on March 18, 2015 at 18:00. [ details ]
MAGMA Contemporary Art Space from Sf. Gheorghe kindly invites you to the opening of the exhibition 'DREAMHUNTING' by Igor BUHAROV (Kornél SZILÁGYI), Ivan BUHAROV (Nándor HEVESI) and Vasile CROAT (László HORVÁTH). [ details ]
On January 15, 2015 at 19:00 MAGMA Contemporary Art Space from Sfântu Gheorghe cordially invites you to the opening of the exhibition entitled The geometry of water by Hungarian artist Ágnes PÉTER winner of the first prize at the second edition of the International Graphic Art Biennial in Szeklerland.[ details ]
SALON VIDEO and MAGMA Contemporary Art Space cordially invite you to the opening of the archive-exhibition salonvideo_SUBmissions.[ details ]
Magda CSUTAK // Solo Exhibition[ details ]
Ivan Ladislav GALETA solo exhibition[ details ]
Opening: 14. February, 2014., 19:00[ details ]
Group exhibition[ details ]
Zoltán Szegedy-Maszák & Márton Fernezelyi [ details ]
The 35-year anniversary exhibition of MAMŰ[ details ]
Prints, Drawings and Photos from the Ethnological Archives[ details ]
MAGMA Contemporary Art Space invites you to the opening of the exhibition entitled Master and disciple 4 of the artists Ilona NÉMETH and Jaro VARGA [ details ]
Joint temporary exhibition of the Hungarian Museum of Trade and Tourism, the Hungarian Museum for Science, Technology and Transport and the Fazakas & Kimmel Collection [ details ]
The commune Árkos and the Covasna County Capital, Sepsiszentgyörgy will host an extraordinary event: the ‘Spiral’ International Contemporary Art Symposium takes place here at the Training Center and the garden of the Szentkereszty Castle. [ details ]
Our exhibition attempts to give an overview of the main events, effects and consequences of the greatest plague epidemic of European history, the Black Death, which first devastated Europe in 1347-1349. [ details ]
Holidays and Encounters II. – Ethnographic exhibition and Europe in Miniature cultural program in the Székely National Museum[ details ]
Executive editor: Vargha Mihály.
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