The Photographic archive

From the very beginning, in addition to books and periodicals, Budapest Collection has tried to collect cityscapes (mainly engravings and photographs) as well. The Photographic archive became independent in the late 1950s and started to grow mainly by collecting fresh reportage and newspaper clippings. Sensing and following the changes that have taken place in the historical and social sciences, as well as in photography in the recent decades, its' direction has meanwhile changed: it has moved towards collecting rare archive photos (partly amateurs), contemporary photography and photographic documentation that is already made with digital devices (born digital material).

The Photographic archive, containing more than 250.000 images now, collects photographs from the beginnings of photography to the present day, showing the changes in the cityscape and the amateur and professional photographers' and photojournalists' images of the city. The very diverse, heterogeneous material is dominated by (mostly black and white) landscapes, street and event photos, architectural photos, portraits, studio shots, photo albums and postcards, but we pay special attention to the larger thematic photo series, photo competitions and exhibition materials, photographic oeuvres (Lugo, Kinszki, Kozelka, Inkey), architectural / defense documentation, and materials from former editorial offices (Budapest, Népszabadság).

Photo documents are stored in air-conditioned storage rooms, in separate units according to technology, size and level of processing.

In addition to the systematic development of the collection - by purchases and gifts -, our task is to preserve images (exploring, identifying, packaging professionally) and provide access to photo documents. Our research service is open to everyone. There's an opportunity for personal consultation and research, but we are also constantly expanding the possibilities of remote use via various databases, internet interfaces (the library's online catalog, Budapest Picture Archive, Hungaricana, Topotéka, active Facebook presence, web exhibitions, galleries, mobile applications). Upon request, we provide digital copies of the selected images.

The Photographic archive of the Budapest Collection is located on the 6th floor of the Central Library. Personal research is possible after prior consultation, mainly during office hours (Monday to Friday, between 10-16 hours). The staff of the collection, Zita Nagy ( and Szilvia Pálinkás ( are waiting for inquiries by e-mail or by phone (+ 36 1) 411 5027.

Budapest Collection

1088 Budapest, Szabó Ervin tér 1.
Go to
Opening hours
    Today 10:00-20:00
    Tomorrow: 10:00-20:00

Phone number:
(1) 411-5026
Manager: Kiss Borbála
Head of department

Registration for natural and legal persons:
free of charge / 12 months
Administration fee of registration reader card:
HUF 400 / 12 months

Daily card: HUF 1650 / day

Borrowing privileges in one library:
HUF 7800 / 12 months
HUF 5400 / 6 months
HUF 4000 / 3 months

Establishment of membership for using all branches simultaneously:
HUF 10000 / 12 months
HUF 7700 / 6 months