Eugen Bárkány was born in 1885 in Prešov. He was a buider, a collector and a successful construction entrepreneur of Jewish origin. He survived both wars, and was deprived by the communist regime from his native Prešov to find a new home in Bratislava. All that time he had been collecting – postal stamps, objects linked to the years he spent as prisoner of WWI in Siberia and especially Judaica. Gradually he created two valuable collections – one in Prešov and the second one in Bratislava. Today, a selection from both collections can be seen in the Jewish Community Museum in the last remaining synagogue in Bratislava. He was the initiator and indirect founder of this museum. Although it opened only 45 years after his death and not in the Neolog synagogue on Rybné Square, as Bárkány originally planned, but at the synagogue on Heydukova Street, it administers the Judaica collection Bárkány created during the years he spent in Bratislava.
The opening of the first ever Jewish museum in Slovakia, in Prešov in 1928, was preceded by the discovery of wall paintings in a former prayer room dating from the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries, a period when Jews were not allowed to settle in royal free towns like Prešov. It was given to them only in 1840.
The most interesting pieces of this collection are displayed today in a permanent exhibition opened in the women’s gallery of the synagogue in 2012. The remaining space of the gallery is used for seasonal exhibitions. This year, it is an exhibition called Between Prešov and Bratislava, focusing on the Judaica collection created by Bárkány in Prešov.