Today the Balassi Institute operates 23 institutions in 21 countries. The oldest one was established in Vienna in 1924, the latest additions were Istanbul and Beijing in 2013, Zagreb and Belgrade in 2014, and Ljubljana in 2016. There are considerable differences between the institutes, with some having facilities for providing scholars with fellowships, while others are just offices for cultural co-operation. In 2016 the Hungarian institute in Brussels set up the first Art Saloon of its kind in order to help Hungarian artists living in Belgium to cooperate with each other and with Hungarian cultural policy actors.
Bilateral agreements are recorded with over 100 countries, about 50 of which are active. In 2013-14 the government decided on the renewal of such agreements with six countries: Azerbaijan, Vietnam, Turkmenistan, Slovenia, Georgia and Uzbekistan, and in 2015 with Turkey and Russia.
After Germany, China and the USA in 2007-2009, the following concentrated large scale events or cultural seasons in selected foreign countries have been planned:
- Hungarian cultural days in Russia in 2015 was supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with 200 million HUF.
- A Hungarian cultural year from May 2016 in Poland on the 60th anniversary of the 1956 uprisings in the two countries. Among others Hungary will be special guest of the Warsaw International Book Fair, Wroclaw2016 will include Hungarian productions, and Cracow will host the international Catholic World Youth Day with a significant number of Hungarian participants.
Another outstanding feature that requires great efforts of international cultural co-operation has been the organisation of large scale exhibitions. The National Gallery arranged a Picasso exhibition in 2016. The Museum of Fine Arts displayed works of Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age in 2014. Magyar Filmunió is the International Division of the Hungarian National Film Fund, promoting Hungarian cinematography throughout the world. Among others, it organises the participation of Hungarian films (feature films, shorts, documentaries and animation) at international film festivals and retrospective screenings, and also acts as a sales agent.
The Hungarian Translation Fund has in the past few years operated in the national Petőfi Literary Museum. Allies in this endeavour are the Hungarian Translators House Foundation, as well as a civic website entitled Hungarian Literature Online http://www.hlo.hu. The country traditionally runs a national stand at the Frankfurt Book Fair, managed by the publishers’ and booksellers’ association, similar to the annual Budapest Book Festival, which is an international event. In the last five years, the Frankfurt Book Fair’s Hungarian literature programme has been organised by the Balassi Institute’s Publishing Hungary programme.
Műcsarnok, the national art exhibition centre is in charge of curating the country’s exhibits at the Venice Biennale, where Hungary has had a pavilion of its own since as early as 1909. The First Roma Pavilion at the Venice Contemporary Art Biennale was curated by the Hungarian art historian Timea Junghaus in 2007. With regard to art fairs, Hungarian galleries have enjoyed a limited presence at the leading world events. (The higher than average Hungarian presence at the 13th Documenta 2012 was an exception.)