History of the Museum



The Zemplín Museum in Michalovce was established in 1957 as a homeland-study museum. Since 1965 has been operating under its current name. Collections and expositions are situated in baroque – classicistic manor house of the aristocrats from Staré and Michalovce. The manor house developed from an older castle in the17th century, his last reconstruction was realised during 1930s, when it took its final appearance. The manor house, former grange and surrounding buildings including reconstructed foundations of important sacral structure within museum´s area are considered to be cultural monuments.

The Zemplín Museum is responsible for documentation of biotic and abiotic elements of local nature and overall cultural and economic development of the Zemplín region as well.

History of the manor house

The manor house and its owners till 1944

A part of the Stáray family preserved archives, originally stored in the manor house building in Michalovce and afterwards moved to the State´s local archive in Nižná Šebastová – Prešov, has begun to provide valuable testimony regarding the history of our manor house.

Until nowadays we do not exactly  know who and when built the manor house, the current residence of the Zemplín museum. It was probably risen from an older gothic structure during the Renaissance era. An iniciator of the reconstruction was probably a representative of the House of Nagymihályi or some of their relatives. Members of the House of Nagymihályi belonged to the most influental landowners of the 16th century. The Houses of Nagymihályi, Bánffy and Sztáray had a common ancestor – Jakov, belonging to an Hungarian aristocratic House of Kaplon.  In the 13th century Jakov acquired property in Michalovce.

According to the old deeds the manor house was in possession of the Bánffy family. In 1696 was the manor house taken in pledge by the Szirmay family. Andrej Szirmay wrote about this matter in  more detailed manner in his diary, keeping it very scrupulously in  1680-1713. It had to be a very bad condition of the manor house that made Andrej Szirmay to begin a reconstruction that was completed in 1700. Situation of our region around 1732 described Matthias Bel in his work dealing with the Zemplén County. He wrote the following words about the town of Michalovce: ,,the town used to belong to the family of Nagymihályi. Some of them live here until nowadays, mostly offsprings of the female line, e.g. Baron Sztáray and some other heirs of the town. With this contribution it belongs mainly to the Szirmay family, including small parts in property of Baron Lušinský and Baron Boronkaj.“ Bel listed also owners of the four main manor houses (curias) in the town. One of these buldings belonged to the widow of Anton Szirmay and to his youngest sons Imrich and Alexander. Bel left a short description of this manor house as well. He characterised it as a vast building bounded by four bastions with a spacious courtyard.


Stáray family had owned the manor house de facto and de jure from the second third of the 18th century. It come into a possession of the Baron Imrich Sztáray (1698-1769), which portrait is a part of the Zemplín Museum collections, after paying off the Szirmay´s debt. Important era for a history of the House were 1940´s. It is noted within records from the canonical visit of the Igerian bishop – František Barkóczy that took place in the summer of 1749. A different evidence of the visit is a memorial plaque situated in a church. Imrich and his second wife Theresia Desfaigny de la Tournelle (Belgium) had five children. Well known is Ján Filip Sztáray (1739-1815) who became an heir of the property of Staré after his father´s death and Michal Sztáray (1749-1798) who succeeded to an estate of the manor house in Michalovce. And so they had entered upon a new branches of the House. Michal Sztáray belonged to great admirers of the french culture and opponents of the Habsburgs. He entered into the history as a music composer. His son, a next owner of the residence, Albert Sztáray (1785 – 1843) devoted himself to the politics and journalism. He and his wife had two sons and the younger one inherited family´s fortune of the town. He married Františka Batthányi in 1863. The couple contributed to a great development of the town (establishment of the brewery, participated on the opening of a new hospital, building – up of a chapel – family mausoleum on Hrádok etc.). Right after the wedding they decided to emplace their coats of arms on the tympanon situated above the main entrance to the manor house. Childless Anton determined an heir Gabriel Sztáray (1866 – 1941). Under very interesting circumstances rich uncle after all changed his last will in behalf of Gabriel´s cousin – Alexander (1862 – 1947), who acquired an immense fortune. His death ended a male branch of the House. Alexander Sztáray from the branch of Staré, his wife Paulína Vécsey and their four children – Mária, Anton, Michal and Magdaléna had lived in the manor house in Michalovce till 1944. In the abovementioned year a front came and so they had to evacuate. The manor house had been nationalized after its pass-over.


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