The building was erected (between 1898-1900) on the site of a former arsenal, as a result of an architectural competition. The architects, Aladár Arkay and Mór Kallina were to face a rather demanding project: to design a building in a preexisting block which should function both as a theatre and a library in order to satisfy the expectations of the residents of Buda.
The Buda side of Hungary’s capital city, Budapest became culturally and economically more developed and prosperous than Pest by the end of the 17th century. Buda was reconquered from the Turkish invasion after 150 years and then the city’s progress took a slower pace. The ’Vigadó’ used to be a large storeroom of the army and later it was a military cartstorage building. The rather simple storage buildings rested on baroque and medieval foundations.
The new cultural center became a two-storey building, designed in the eclectic style features of the 19th century, and had a courtyard and a roof structure like a dome. The frontage colonnade combines features of ionic and renaissance styles as well. Italian (Florentine and Roman) design can be discovered while seeing the windows and gates. Wooden pillars and columns could be seen originally on the main facade.
During WW II. the building was seriously damaged and the former design and layout had not been taken into account during the consequent restoration works, which meant a considerably less impressive and less suitable appearance. Today, the building has more functions: not only the Hungarian Institute for Culture and Arts but Hungarian Heritage House also can be found here.
In 2007, new restoration works began. It was absolutely time to start the renovation because the latest one happened in the 1940’s, and it focused mainly on restoring the damages of the war. The main goal was to make the building simplier. In that renovation the main task was to repair the exterior of the building and to reinstall the original decoration. The main facade recovered its original, impressive outlook: the formerly absent statues of famous composers and the mythological statue group above the tympanum were placed on their original spots. The formerly walled up windows were opened again, granting the building its original sense of space. The restoration was chiefly founded by the Hungarian Ministry of Education and Culture. The restored “Vigadó” changed name and function: it became the seat of the Hungarian Heritage House, in service of representing Hungarian folk culture.