In 2021, 26 Hungarian Institutes operate in 24 countries. Until 2016 they were outposts of the Balassi Institute (Balassi Intézet, named after a 16th century poet); since the closure of this public institution the Hungarian Institutes are managed directly by the Foreign Ministry. Without any consultation or prior news, the members of the network were re-baptised as Liszt Institute (after the composer) overnight in September 2021. The oldest one was established in Vienna in 1924, while the latest additions were Ljubljana in 2016, and Tokyo and Seoul in 2019. The common web portal of the network is https://culture.hu. It reflects the customary performance of foreign cultural institutes, which is primarily the display of national culture. Bearing the title of Collegium Hungaricum, the Institutes in Berlin, Rome, and Vienna also provide scholars with fellowships and residencies.
Bilateral cultural agreements, usually in conjunction with educational and scientific co-operation are managed by the cultural state secretariat of the Ministry of Human Resources. The exchange of experts is still of some importance in the agreements, especially in the heritage field. In the arts, most co-operation projects are realised through other channels.
The earlier habit of running large scale “cultural seasons” in foreign countries has discontinued, mainly due to the Covid pandemic. Smaller Hungarian Days or Weeks are mainly held in the neighbouring countries with a sizeable Hungarian minority population (in 2021 in Bratislava and Cluj).
Before the pandemic, spectacular exhibitions organised by the Museum of Fine Arts and the National Gallery attracted masses of domestic and international visitors. These events required great efforts of international cultural co-operation. An exhibition of Gerhard Richter’s works was the latest in 2021, preceded by pre-Raphaelite masterpieces from the Tate Collection, Surrealism from Dali to Magritte (2019), and Bacon, Freud, and the London School (2018).
The International Department of the National Film Institute represents Hungarian films abroad and handles their festival and sales activity. The government fosters the shooting of films in Hungary – several studios receive large multinational productions regularly, which is a solid segment of the international cultural cooperation of the country.
The Petőfi Literary Fund offers grants to foreign publishers for the translation and the production of Hungarian authors abroad. It also runs the Hungarian Translators House for residencies.
The Ludwig Museum curates the country’s exhibits at the Venice Biennale, where Hungary has had a pavilion of its own since as early as 1909. Hungarian galleries have enjoyed a limited presence at the leading world events which is improving slowly.
Attracting major sporting events is a top priority for the government, absorbing large amounts of public subsidy and related investments. These are sometimes accompanied by impressive cultural performances like the opening celebrations of the 2017 World Aquatics Championships in Budapest.