Published: April 19, 2023

First Kings of Europe in Budapest

International Archaeological Conference is a companion event to the First Kings exhibition.

Dr. Bill Parkinson addresses visiting museum directors from Europe at the opening of the First Kings of Europe exhibition in late March 2023. © Field Museum/Juliet Dervin

Field Museum curators Dr. Bill Parkinson and Dr. Attila Gyucha will be in Budapest, Hungary, this month for a three-day conference related to their latest exhibition, First Kings of Europe.

Hosted by the Hungarian National Museum, "First Kings of Europe - Leadership and Inequality in Prehistoric Southeast Europe" examines the origins of wealth and hierarchy in the Balkan peninsula.

Unprecedented Collaboration

The conference in Budapest is inspired by the First Kings of Europe exhibition recently opened at the Field Museum.

The exhibition began as a "crazy idea" in late 2015. "We've never done anything like this; there's never been a show like this in North America," Dr. Parkinson said.

Planning took eight years as the Field team worked with museum directors in eleven countries and 26 museums throughout Southeastern Europe. Several artifacts in the exhibition are on view outside their home country museums for the first time.

Besides the sheer scale of the project, the team faced other hurdles.

The show was canceled at least once during the pandemic. But thanks to additional support from Discover, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the America for Bulgaria Foundation, First Kings of Europe opened at the Field Museum on March 31, 2023.

The exhibition features some of the most exciting archaeological finds from the Balkan Peninsula. Visitors learn how small farming communities evolved into states approximately 8,000-2,500 years ago during the Neolithic period, Copper Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age.

For Dr. Gyucha, First Kings of Europe is only the beginning. "This project can be a first milestone for future collaborations."

First Kings of Europe is at the Field Museum through January 28, 2024.