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8 innovative museums at Lake Balaton

Sights & Culture - Articles

Tuesday, August 2, 2016 — Zoltán Molnár

Photo: Sebestyén Blanka - We Love Balaton

Museums and exhibitions at Balaton are usually staples for a rainy day, but it’s a little known fact that they're a fun option in the event of a heat wave as well. Luckily, the museums of the 21st century hardly bring to mind the boring obligatory museum visits many kids had to endure on school trips: we can all remember listening to the tour guide in silence while trying to suppress a yawn. The museums of the 21st century have an open-minded attitude, and place great emphasis on tactility and interactivity, which makes you feel like you’re almost learning more than at a TED Talks marathon.

Balaton Museum – Keszthely

Photo: Csongor Kiripolszky - We Love Balaton

Balaton Museum

8360 Keszthely, Múzeum utca 2.
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We were not sure how much we should point out the importance of Keszthely, but we simply had to feature two venues from the town of museums (even so, we left out the Carriage Museum, the Palace Museum, and the Hunting and Model Railway Exhibition). The first one, Balaton Museum has several permanent displays as well as plenty of temporary exhibitions (one of the current ones commemorates World War I to mark the centenary of the historic event). The exhibit named Aranyhíd (Glitter Path) tells the story of the lake, and provides visitors with the unique experience of seeing one of the oldest fishing boat types used in the region and getting to climb onto the deck of a sailboat prop.

Excitement level: ***
Interactivity: ***

Amazon House – Keszthely

Photo: Tamás Kőrösi - We Love Balaton

Amazon House Visitor Center

8360 Keszthely, Kastély utca 11.
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Balaton’s former Amazon Hotel was transformed into one of the freshest and coolest museums in the entire region. The main theme of the exhibition space is the traveling habits of the Hungarian nobility, especially in the 19th and 20th centuries. The interactive items on display include an old-fashioned cabriolet that rocks as if it were actually on the road and a van that you can get started with the help of a starting handle.

Excitement: ****
Interactivity: ***

Pannon Csillagda Observatory – Bakonybél

Photo: Blanka Sebestyén - We Love Balaton

Pannon Observatory

8427 Bakonybél, Szent Gellért tér 9.
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If you don’t want to go all the way to Zselic for a bit of stargazing, there’s a place located in the vicinity of Balaton that brings visitors face to face with their insignificance compared to the dimensions of the universe. The futuristic complex in Bakonybél is open during the day, and occasionally at night. Drop by to browse the sky through handy telescopes, see for yourself what the surface of a meteorite feels like, explore the realm of the starts at the huge planetarium boasting a 5.1 sound system, and test their new 3D cinema launched this year.

Exctement level: *****
Interactivity: *****

Lavender House – Tihany

Photo: We Love Balaton

Levendula Ház Visitor Center

8237 Tihany, Major utca 67.
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The aim of the museum was to sum up the essence of Tihany, and we think Lavender House fulfills that requirement to a T. The visitor center is not only about the lavender plant, which some people consider wonderfully fragrant while others outright smelly; it also guides visitors through the region’s volcanic past as well as the history of the village itself (there’s even a special carpet that lets you experience what it’s like to walk in a typical marshland). There’s plenty of interesting features to try outside, too, such as the labyrinth and the reed bed, which you can explore on a footbridge made of planks.

Excitement level: ***
Interactivity: ***

Vitorlázeum Museum – Balatonfüred

Photo: Blanka Sebestyén - We Love Balaton

Vitorlás Restaurant and "Vitorlázeum" Sailing Museum

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Found on the first floor of Vitorlás Restaurant, this sailing themed exhibition encourages visitors to use their hands and feet. In the first room you can watch different videos by stepping on sensors on the floor, at another station you can try creating knots, and on the terrace you can see whether you’re able to balance on a swaying surfboard. Even amateurs will quickly be drawn into the world of raising sails and dropping anchors.

Excitement level: ****
Interactivity: *****

Veszprém Castle Dungeon – Veszprém

Photo: Tamás Kőrösi - We Love Balaton

Veszprém Castle Dungeon

8200 Veszprém, Vár utca 19.
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Take a walk through the cells of the castle dungeon, and you’ll never ever even think about committing a crime, but you’ll learn a lot of horrific facts about the Communist and Arrow Cross regimes. These are the two primary tales told in the Castle, on the third underground floor of the Veszprém Courthouse. You can experience what it must have been like to be held in these damp and stuffy rooms hundreds of years ago, and get acquainted with the stories of people like Cardinal Mindszenty, who were incarcerated here during the years of Communist and Arrow Cross oppression. The museum is not particularly interactive, but that's something that we miss here.

Excitement level: *****
Interactivity: **

History of Sailing Visitor Center – Balatonföldvár

Photo: Tamás Kőrösi - We Love Balaton

Balatonföldvár History of Sailing Visitor Center

8623 Balatonföldvár, Erzsébet utca 50.
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You could say that this observation tower in Földvár is the south shore’s perfect answer to Balatonfüred’s Vitorlázeum. It has a different perspective on boats: the futuristic building itself resembles a steamboat (or the cruiser Aurora), and sailboats are only one of the models featured at the exhibition. Kids are a main target audience: they can play with the wind machine to better understand storm signals, and see Balaton on an interactive satellite image. The tall mast is an amazing vantage point.

Excitement level: ***
Interactivity: ****

József Attila Memorial House – Balatonszárszó

Photo: Blanka Sebestyén - We Love Balaton

Attila József Memorial House

8624 Balatonszárszó, József Attila utca 7.
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Many claim that Attila József is the ultimate representative of Hungarian poetry. His work may be highly appreciated today, but his life sadly ended on a low note. He was hit by a freight train in Balatonszárszó, so it’s fitting that there should be a memorial house in his honor in the lakeside village. Opened a few years ago, this is not a boring literary museum with old, woodworm-infested furniture and dusty bookshelves, but a living space showcasing authentic documents. Put on one of the headphones to listen to heartfelt renditions of the poet's poignant lines.

Excitement level: ***
Interactivity: ****

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