In 2004, a permanent exhibition showing the history of science opened at the Hungarian National Museum. Its most important aim was to acquaint visitors with scientific findings and achievements in Hungary from the 19th century up to the present day that count as significant on a world scale also, and to present the Hungarian scientists and thinkers responsible for them. This exhibition affords quiet pride to Hungarians while providing role models and goals in life for their children; for non-Hungarians it serves to inform and to awaken interest. At the same time, the exhibition demonstrates that in the field of science, too, the Hungarian people have achieved significant results, not only winning a place in global scientific life, but also playing a pioneering role in some areas.
Lóránd Eötvös’s gravitation measurements and empirical findings laid the foundations for Einstein’s theory of relativity. The invention of the transformer opened up new possibilities for the economical transmission of electrical energy over longer distances, while carburettors used in motor-cars operate on the basis of the early carburettor developed by the Hungarians Bánki and Csonka. From among Hungary’s Nobel laureates, Albert Szent-Györgyi discovered ascorbic acid (vitamin C). By means of his researches, at the end of the 20th century György Oláh opened up new avenues in the use of hydrocarbons. Ever since the brilliant work of the Bolyais, mathematics in Hungary has produced geniuses; it is enough to mention János Neumann, considered the father of informatics; Pál Erdős, winner of the Wolf Prize; Péter Lax; and Laszló Lovász. We pose a question which many have attempted to answer albeit with little impact internationally: namely, how is it that the Hungarians, a small nation, have given the world a disproportionately large number of scientists, inventions, and ideas? We give what we think is part of the answer, by presenting Hungarian education (which was reformed in the second half of the 19th century), important politicians involved with culture and education, and important teachers.
Since the opening of the exhibition, many artefacts connected with the history of science have been offered to the Hungarian National Museum. Many of these are displayed as new acquisitions in the exhibition.
One such artefact is the first laser apparatus for medical use. This was developed by Professor Géza Jakó, an ear, nose, and throat specialist living in United States of America, with help from the engineer Károly Polányi.
After seeing the exhibition, György Oláh, a Nobel laureate in chemistry, gifted the Museum with a number of personal effects connected with the presentation of the Nobel Prize to him, along with his Hungarian decorations.
A Gömböc bearing the date of the Hungarian National Museum’s foundation was presented to the Museum by the inventors of the object following their successes at the Shanghai World’s Fair of 2010.
Our most recent acquisition is a full-sized model of the Masat-1 satellite, the first Hungarian satellite, given to the Museum at the end of 2014 by the young team that built that device. The team also gave a copy of the commemorative postage stamp that was issued and a copy of the commemorative medal that was struck.