The Institute for Cultural Research
The direct predecessor to the Institute of Cultural Research was the Institute of Folk Art, which was established in 1951 with Jenő Széll as director. Its mission was to research folk traditions and art. Despite the limitations placed on the Institute by the centralized cultural policy, it became a shelter for banned amateur art associations, which thus were able to survive within the state framework. Jenő Széll played an important role in this. He was able to harmonize his cultural policy concepts and work methods with the directives he got from the superior party organizations. Jenő Széll led the secretariat of Prime Minister Imre Nagy. He became the government commissioner of Hungarian Kossuth Radio during the 1956 Revolution. In the autumn of 1957, he was fired from the Institute. He was then imprisoned. After his release, he worked as a translator.
The atmosphere of the persecutions and reprisals influenced the work of the Institute. It was renamed the Institute of Popular Culture. In the 1960s, the forced political function was central, but this gradually started to weaken. Professionalization began, and the institute was able to secure protection and support for its ambitious and innovative initiatives. In this period, the dissemination and education of popular culture evolved dramatically with the help of public exposure through television programs. In 1963, the Ministry of Culture delegated research on popular culture to the Institute. The main tasks were the coordination of work of the research organizations and the research plans. Principally, they dealt with theoretical analysis and philosophical, psychological, and pedagogical topics, but they also began to pursue cultural and sociological research. Scientific research, adult education, and the study of local history were complemented with amateur artistic works. New genres and contents emerged because of contributions by people active in the alternative and experimental art movements of the 1960s. The appointment of Iván Vitányi’s in 1972 as Chief Director was an advantageous turn in the history of the Institute.
The Institute for Cultural Research became independent in 1980. It seceded from the Institute of Popular Culture. Iván Vitányi remained the leader. Thanks to his open mindset, the institute hosted numerous projects which did not follow the mainstream directions. Vitányi supported the rethinking and reforming of culture, and he was positive about mediating high culture to the widest social strata. He supported the dance house movement, different amateur arts, sociological, pedagogical, music, and popular-culture research projects and empirical investigations. These endeavors focused on the mapping and dissemination of everyday culture, and this was considered pathbreaking in Hungary and abroad.
In 1986 the National Center for Public Culture and Education was established when the Institute for Cultural Research and the Institute of Popular Culture were merged. Iván vitányi maintained his leading position after this change, as well.
Budapest Corvin tér 8, Hungary 1011
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Date of founding
Type of organisation
- Government/State organisation
Author(s) of this page
- Huhák, Heléna
Földiák, András. "A Magyar Művelődési Intézet ötven évének öt korszakáról." Szín 1, no. 2 (1996), 2-7. http://dla.epitesz.bme.hu/appendfiles/1464-EPA01306_Szin_1996_01_02_002-007,%20magyar%20m%C5%B1vel%C5%91d%C3%A9si%20int%C3%A9zet.pdf.