The Kállay Collection opened to the public in a flat on the second floor in the Nyírvíz Palace (1 Széchenyi Street, Nyíregyháza) in 10 March 1993. It was founded by dr. Kristóf Kállay (1916-2006) who was the special Ambassador of the Diplomatic Committee of the Order of Malta for the Holy See, firstborn son of dr. Miklós Kállay (1887-1967), prime minister of Hungary. He gave his private collection amassed in his excile in Rome to his birthtown, Nyíregyháza in 1989-1990, which formed the foundation of the Kállay Collection.
The Kállay Collection not only keeps the memory of an antient Hungarian noble family, but also of a part of our county’s and our country’s history. The collection has a library of 16.000 bands, and historical photos. It contains personal items of Kállay descendantes, dr. Miklós Kállay’s (1916-2006) correspondance, Ferenc Ilosvay’s (1914-1990), hunter and writer’s manuscripts and Baron of Altorja Gábor Apor’s (1889-1969) collection of orders.
The orders subcollection is outstanding in the Kállay Collection. It contains 38 types of orders, which are from 13 European and 4 Central and South American countries. 12 pieces are from Hungary and from the era of the Habsburg Empire. Most of the orders are first or second class, which made of gold and silver, or gilded silver. Some of them cannot be found in Hungarian public museums or public collections, such as the Royal Hungarian Order of Saint Stephen’s (founded in 1764) Grand Cross with breast star; a version of the Distinguished Order of the Golden Fleece (founded in 1429) made at the end of the 19th century; a decoration of the Noble Ladies’ Institute of Mary’s School in Brno (served until 1918); the Sovrereing Military Order of Malta’s Grand Cross with breast star; the Order of the Crown of King Zvonimir’s Grand Cross with breast star (existed between 1941-1944); and the Central and South American orders.
Moreover, our collection preserves prime minister dr. Miklós Kállay’s and dr. Kristóf Kállay’s orders as well.
The subcollection of applied arts have a wide range of various items. A saber decorated with emerald and ruby, made in Vienna in the Millennium of 1900, is a copy of George Rákóczi II’s (Prince of Transylvania) saber. Noticable wears are Sir Frederic Duncan’s diplomat clothes (1859-1929, English diplomat in Vienna); his son, Oliver Duncan’s elegant ball suit (1892-1965); Sebastioano Baggio’s (1913-1993, cardinal) priest wears from the 1970s and 1980s; George Barcs’s (1906-1992, Knight of the Sovrereing Military Order of Malta) church wear of the Order of Malta; and decorated Hungarian coats of the Kállay family. The Dietrich heritage is part of the subcollection of applied arts, which was given by Johanna Dietrich (1929-2017), widow of Ferenc Ilosvay (1914-1990), hunter and writer. She was continuously giving our collection her husband’s photos, personal items, manuscripts and periodicals, and several beautiful silver items made by her grandfather, Oscar Dietrich (1853-1940), gold- and silversmith.
The Kállay Collection obtained an altar painting with the size of 3 x 2 meters with the help of the museum-founder in 1998, which had been hung on the wall of the Roman Catholic Church in Kállósemjén long ago.
The library is valuable with its 16.000 bands, which is based on the private library of Baron of Altorja Gábor Apor, of Marquis Hubert Pallavicini, of prime minister dr. Miklós Kállay, of dr. Kristóf Kállay, of András Kállay, and of hunter and writer, Ferenc Ilosvay. Less than half of the books are in Hungarian language, the others are in Italian, German, English, French and Latin. The library has several first editions, numbered copies, ex librises, dedications by the authors, and also has numerous manuscripts and offprints.
The Kállay Collection became a museum with several subcollections during the past 27 years with the help of more and more benefactors, who were continuously giving valuable gifts to us. It officially became a museum on 9 November 2007. It was renewed in 2020, and it receives visitors and museum friends with new, spectecular exhibitions in the Kállay House (15 Bessenyei Square, Nyíregyháza).