The roots of Artpool go back to the exhibitions held in artist Gyorgy Galantai's Balatonboglar Chapel from 1970 to 1973. By the time police closed it down in August of that year, the Chapel had established itself as the center of officially proscribed avant-garde art, and in retrospect, one of the cradles of cultural change in Hungary.
Six years later, in 1979, Gyorgy Galantai and Julia Klaniczay made another attempt to create an alternative art institute, one that would make room for new trends in art. They established Artpool at a time when art forms out of keeping with the official cultural policy were denied access to the public. Periodically banned, but on the whole tolerated, Artpool organized many exhibitions and art events, and published several anthologies and art catalogues between 1979 and 1990. From 1983 to 1985, they put out eleven "illegal" issues of "Aktualis Level" (Artpool Letter), a "samizdat" art magazine which continues to serve as the sole documentary souce on the non-official art of those years.
Artpool's aim was to provide contemporary Hungarian artists with information and potential contacts on the international art scene, as well as to publicize and document the activities of Hungarian artists out of favor with those who dictated the cultural policy of the time. Collecting what documents were extant on the alternative art of the '60s, '70s, and '80s, Artpool set up an archive which, they hoped, would provide future generations with ammunition and inspiration when it came to moral stands and aesthetic struggles of their own. In the ten years of its "illegal" existence, the archive accumulated several rare collections of international significance. The Artpool archive contains the world's largest collection of artists' stampworks, and it also holds unique collections of bookworks, periodicals, sound poetry, visual poetry, and so on.
Subsequent to the political changes of 1989, Artpool, which already had an international reputation, was officially recognized, and was opened to the public.
The Artpool Research Center is open to the public on Wednesdays and Fridays.
Books, exhibition catalogues, and art documents are readily available during those hours; video and sound documents can be studied as well. Research is aided by a catalogue and a computer-based register which is continuously enlarged and updated.
Information about Artpool's programs, lectures, and events is published regularly in the press, as well as being sent to those on Artpool's mailing list. Admittance to all exhibitons and lectures held at Artpool, to the archives and library is free of charge and open to the public.