Mai Manó, Imperial and Royal Court Photographer (1855- 1917) had his eight-story
studio-house and home built in fourteen months in 1893-94.
photographer and specialist, in his time he was one of the best specialists of
child portraits. His status in the professional community of that time is
uncontested. He was also the founder and editor of the periodical called A Fény
(The Light, launched in 1906) The building's richly decorated neo-renaissance
façade clearly served ideological purposes: Mai Manó wanted to lend a past to
the young trade, hardly considered to be a form of art by anyone at that time.
Take the majolica putti between the ground floor and the mezzanine or the façade
paintings on the third floor showing the "six muses of photography".
photographing took place in the Sunlight-studio on the second floor, we restored
in 1996-97. During the restoration, we found the original frescoes hiding
bethind the white wallpaper for decades. These used to serve as background for
Mai's portraits. His studio worked in the house for four decades, until 1931. It
was followed by a luxury-bar, Arizona, which was closed in 1944.
Second World War, a number of institutions and companies moved into the house
and a few private apartments were separated as well. In spite of all the
vicissitudes, the house kept its original character. It was declared a piece of
national heritage in 1996 considering its special architecture, ornaments and
industry-historical significance. While the idea to turn the House into a centre
of photography resurfaced countless times throughout the decades, the plan's
realization waited for the perseverance and hard work of three zealous persons:
Magdolna Kolta, Károly Kincses, and András Bánkuti. Hungarian House of
Photography, or as its friends call it, Mai Manó House open since November,
1998. The reconstruction of the building - has been sponsored by the Hungarian
State and planned by Szántó and Mikó Architects - is not far from completion.
Mai Manó House presents its exhibitions on three floors.
On the mezzanine, in Kis Manó Gallery - in the bookshop - we organize small-scale
exhibitions, sometimes from the works of debutant photographers.
In the four rooms interconnected on the first floor, we organize thematic shows,
group-presentations, retrospective exhibitions of classic masters from home and
On the second floor, in the rooms next to Mai Manó's Sunlight studio, the
retrospective exhibitions may continue or we present a coherent series of
Our choices are based on quality, not style, which results in a miscellaneous
variety of exhibitions, and a colourful overview of the field of photography. We
focus on contemporary, sometimes classic works of art.
The famous Daylight Studio of Mai Manó House is located on the second floor,
which visitors reach on the original carved wooden staircase leading up from the
spacious first floor gallery. The landing on the second floor is decorated by
the windows of the famous glass-artist, Miksa Róth.
We have restored the upper-middle class style photographical studio in its
original splendour to make it one of the most exquisite sunlight studios in
Europe again. The frescoes serving as the background on the photographs of that
by-gone age are visible now in their original beauty. This representative space
on the second floor is still the most practical and most elegant location in
Budapest for studio-photography with sunlight. But it also houses art events,
book presentations, and it can be rented for photographical activity or various
THE HOUSE OF MAI MANÓ IN NAGYMEZÔ STREET
Mai Manó House - The Hungarian House of Photographers - operates in a
studio-house built at the end of 19th century, for the commission of Mai Manó
(1855-1917), Imperial and Royal Court Photographer. This special, eight-story
neo-renaissance monument is unique in world architecture: we have no knowledge
of any other intact turn-of-the-century studiohouse. In addition, it serves its
original goal, the case of photography again.
The aim of Mai Manó House is to advance the development of Hungarian
photography and raise photography's national prestige as a distinct form of
The institution plays a marked role in the cultural life of Budapest and
Hungary, while the organization of exhibitions and programs abroad is getting
more and more emphasis within its activities. The reputation of justly
world-famous Hungarian photographers of the 20th century offers a great
opportunity to regain our old status in the world of photography by the
introduction of the generations following those great masters
In the future Mai Manó House, plans to broaden its activities in order to
become one of the determinant centres of photography and visual culture in
Hungarian House of Photography in Mai Manó House
H-1065 Budapest-Terézváros, Nagymező utca 20.