The predecessor of the Town Museum of Sümeg was the Darnay Museum, founded by Kálmán Darnay of Szentmárton (born Kálmán Dorner in Sümeg, Zala County on 11 May 1864 and died on 3 July 1945 in Sümeg, Zala County). The archaeologist, museologist, writer, King’s Counsel, Hungarian royal counsellor and Hungarian honorary counsellor of government was born in an ironmonger’s family of the town. His passion for collecting started in 1877, when as a child he found a “decorative renaissance spur”.
During his diversified work, he launched free newspapers (Házibarát, Darnay Múzeum Ingyen Naptára). He also joined the archaeological explorations directed by Flóris Rómer, Ferenc Pulszky and József Hampel. He led important excavations in the Transdanubian regions, in the urn cemeteries of Csabrendek and Somló, he also explored in Csobánc, Szalacska, Lesencetomaj, Nagykapornak and Zalaszántó. He issued his researched in written form as well; more than sixty of his studies were published in professional periodical magazines. Archaeological finds composed the base of his collection consisting of almost twenty thousand items, which he donated to the state in 1907. This is how the State Darnay Museum was established, under his direction as of 1909. He researched Sándor Kisfaludy’s life and oeuvre tenaciously and collected the poet’s relics diligently; he created a rich collection of the author’s relic objects at the museum. In 1897, he gave Kisfaludy’s library consisting of 2145 volumes and manuscript and document collections consisting of 1135 items (that he inherited from József Eitner) to the Hungarian National Museum. The emperor decorated him with a “Gold Cross of Merit with Crown” in 1897. A significant part of the collection of Sümeg was taken to the Balatoni Museum of Keszthely in 1937, and its majority was destroyed by bombing in the spring of 1945. Sándor Kisfaludy’s relics remained in Sümeg and the Kisfaludy Museum was created on the basis of this collection in the spring of 1938. Primarily, its archaeological publications are important, but it also gained reputation with its historical, ethnographic articles and literary activities. Governor Miklós Horthy gave him the title of honorary counsellor of government in 1922, and the city of Sümeg elected him honorary citizen in 1927.
Memorial exhibition of Kálmán Darnay
Kálmán Darnay was awarded with an Exhibition Memorial Medal for introducing the historical relics of Sümeg at the Historical Division of the Millennial National Exhibition organized in Budapest in 1896.
The document appointing Kálmán Darnay to King’s Counsel can be seen on the wall as well.
Kálmán Darnay’s aim was to acquire documents and objects related to Sándor Kisfaludy. The coat of arms of the family Kisfaludy can be found on the wall.
Just like Sándor Kisfaludy, Kálmán Darnay also kept a human physiognomy skull (by Lavater) on his desk.
Our memorial house preserves the original authentic seal of the Darnay Museum of Sümeg and the desk-top blotter used by Darnay, which is an oval, finely elaborated, relatively large wooden hand-blotter.
Kálmán Darnay’s inventory book that preserved the complete exploration of his private collection, written by himself, is on a highlighted place.
Darnay’s literary work Kaszinózó táblabírák (Clubbing Shire Judges) contains some historical jokes that describe the period. “My wine-cup lifted for clinking, in imagination, almost jingle together with the Kadarka wine glasses of shire judges Sándor Kisfaludy, Ignác Vajda, Ferenc Deák, and György Hertelendy, who rested in the shade at this millstone table for decades. This is the time, when the anecdotes that I heard as a pupil from my grandfather – who spent a half century together with the shire judges of Sümeg – put on rainbow dresses.”
A sword remained from Darnay’s rich arm collection. It is probably a finding from 15th-century tombs.
Kálmán Darnay’s personalized service card in French with photo and his own signature. He used it during the World Expo of Paris and it is part of his legacy.
Sándor Kisfaludy Memorial House
Translated by Zita Aknai