The Hungarian Water Management Museum was founded in 1973, but the collection of its materials began much earlier. The first important date was 1896 when at the World Exhibition in Budapest the results of water management were exhibited in a separate pavilion. Afterwards, the exhibitors took part of this collected material of historic importance back and part was given to the newly established Hungarian Agricultural Museum. When the Agricultural Museum was reorganised in 1934, at the new exhibition the relics connected to water management that were already out of use were divided. The geodetic and hydrographic instruments were placed with the Hydraulic Architecture Department of the Technical University of Budapest, while the manuscript and printed maps and other historic documents were taken over by the Hydrographic Institute of the Ministry of Agriculture. After arrangement of the precious material, the Museum of the Hydrographic Institute was soon established. The Institute has already collected those documents and plans of the defunct and the operating state water authorities; for example, that of the river conservancy and culture-engineer boards which were no longer necessary in the conduct of affairs.
In the last year of World War II, just like other valuables, the so preciously collected water history material was wasted and lost. Fortunately, during the siege of Budapest, the engineers and the office workers of the Hydrographic Institute saved what could be saved. The archive documents were placed in the National Archives and the few material relics were placed in the National Technical Museum that was being established at around that time.
Then, in the 1970s, the leaders of the water management service managed to collect the relics connected to water in one place, and under the care of initiated experts. Thus the Hungaran Water Management Museum was established by the National Water Authority, with the primary intention of noting down and registering the documentation and material relics that are traceable concerning the hundred-year-long past of water management, and to present them in exhibitionsmdash;thus serving the development of future generations, and furthermore, to become the informational basis of a water management service.
In 1980, in the historical monument building of Esztergom, the "The history of the Danube and domestic water management" exhibition opened under the name of Duna Museum. It received visitors for 18 years and then the exhibition was closed for 3 years. With the completion of the restoration work on the building, in October 2001, it provided housing for a new exhibition with a brand new attitude.
The major themes of the exhibition are the physical and chemical properties of water, water regulations, floods, flood control, the history of cartography in Hungary, the history of water supply and canalization, and finally a chronology of Hungarian and world technology of hydraulic engineering. The new exhibition was aimed to address all age groups. Moveable models, interactive activities and videos make what the exhibition has to say more enjoyable and easier to understand. A few words also need to be said about the playroom. The idea behind it was to acquaint children with the laws of physics and chemistry related to water through play. In order to achieve this, a pool equipped with the models of locks, wells, pumps and waterwheels and a mini laboratory have been installed in the room. Two types of exercise book are available for younger and senior pupils along with home and classroom exercises.
The exhibition of the Duna Museum was made for the public at large and not for the proffessions - this determined the themes, the terms, the method and the technique of the displays and the pedagogic program of the museum. The intention was to be interactive, to make the availability of the musem more extensive. Because of this the exhibition is interesting for both children and adults - the children already get into the habit of going to museum in the years of the kindergarten.
In May of 2002 the Duna Museum won the title of the Museum of the Year in Hungary with such a good qualification than only a few other Hungarian museum before. In the assessment the excellent proffesional work and publishing and the new type of connection with the public was emphasized. The museum was between the first institutes in Europe having a computerized register and a virtual researching service about the whole collections. These were the reasons why the Ministry of Cultural Heritage of Hungary encouraged the Duna Museum to apply for the European Museum of the Year prize of the European Museum Forum in 2003. Being a small museum it was very nice that in the other 37 museums of 17 countries the Duna Museum was awarded a Special Commendation on the "European Museum of the Year" competition in Coppenhagen.
Sir Neil Cossons, the President of the European Museum Forum said on the award ceremony:
Hydraulic engineering is a specialised subject, but the Danube Museum has succeeded in making it attractive to visitors, while continuing its own scientific work.
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There are two main IT policy in our Museum: the Museum''s database and the website. The database allows of forgetting the paper-based records. The program is a robust SQL based network application that allows the simultaneous work of the users. The group work is also well supported by the software. It means that employees with different specialty can work together efficiently. During the recording process the collection object is described with more than fifty properties. The electronic record contains a small identification picture that can be viewed in original resolution. The program also supports many file formats such as graphics, documents, animations and CAD files. The most powerful part of the program is the search function. You can search in all the data fields that were recorded. The search can be more efficient with using the logical operators. With a special module you can browse other Museum''s database. If the database application is the same, the search can be started immediately. If it differs, then a special open data communication standard makes the search possible, which will be implemented in the future. Frequent queries can be stored, so they can be accessed very fast. The system also supports the fieldwork. At this time the data is recorded into a PDA device. Later it is being imported into the main database. The "web search module" provides information for everyone with the use of the Internet. The website contains a simple query form which allows the browse of the Museum''s collection. In order to protect the main database, a database replica provides the information that is going to the Internet. During a "web-query" only the public information are being showed because of the connecting regulations. This query system is in testing phase but shortly it will be fully functional. The entire system enables for everyone to explore the Museum''s collections even from home.
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