The Central European Research Institute for Art History (KEMKI) was established in 2021 as an affiliate of the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest. Our mission is to strengthen Hungary's academic discourse and represent Hungarian art and art history at a high standard globally by initiating and implementing locally focused, regional and international research projects and collaborations connected to art-historical issues.
The research conducted at the institution focuses on the history of 20th-century and contemporary art, complemented by the historical analysis of 19th-century Hungarian art. Our academic strategy is based on the coordinated work of the institution's three distinct departments: the Archive and Documentation Center (ADK), the Artpool Research Center (Artpool) and the Research Department. The main tasks of the ADK and Artpool include the further expansion, the processing, the digitalisation and the dissemination of the collection holdings – predominantly manuscripts, documents and archive photos – and the implementation of relevant research projects and publications concentrating on the collection’s units. The ADK takes care of the Hungarian Art Archive, which was established in 1920 by the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest, to become subsequently further developed as the Hungarian National Gallery's Archive incorporating, for example, the complete records of the former Lectorate of Fine- and Applied Arts. The ADK also takes care of the joint photo archive of the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest and the Hungarian National Gallery. With its collection of nearly 3,4 million items, the ADK emerges as the most extensive, researchable art-historical archive in Hungary. One of its main tasks is the publication of art historical volumes that act as primary sources and research paper anthologies based on the exquisite collection of the ADK.
Initiated in 1979 as an art project, operating for decades as an unofficial institution and then as NGO, and since 2015 part of the Museum of Fine Arts, Artpool is one of the most important living, "active archive", library and media library in the Central Eastern European region for documents and works of the Neo-Avant-Garde artists and a wide range of experimental tendencies (artist's books, artist's stamps, mail art / correspondence art, visual poetry, conceptual art, fluxus, performance art etc.). Its main tasks include the development, processing and researching of the collection, the organisation of small exhibitions, art/professional events, the realisation of publications on the history of Artpool and its collections, and the maintenance and development of Artpool's historical website.
The Research Department deals with the introduction of large-scale, regionally focused, international research projects accompanied by international conferences, workshops, the publication of volumes containing academic essays and the curation of complex museum exhibitions.
In addition to collecting, conserving and researching, one of our main ambitions is to play a proactive role in the current discourses surrounding art. Given this, one of our central objectives is to combine and merge the three departments' tasks and strategies and become thus a decisive and active participant in the Hungarian and international cultural scene: our aim is to combine the activities traditionally connected to the notion of "public collecting" with the concept of the "active archive" – a term originating from the legacy of Artpool – to explore art-historical phenomena in dialogue and context with the tendencies of contemporary art.