Next week I will return to Leicester for the School of Museum Studies’ PhD Research Week. I will have my presentation next Wednesday. But this post is not about my visit. It is loosely related to a Public Enemy rap song.
“The sucker over there, he try to keep it yesteryear
The good ol’ days, the same ol’ ways that kept us dyin'”
(Public Enemy: By the time I get to Arizona)
In preparation for my visit to Leicester and as part of my PhD research I read a lot of books on modern museology. And I watch with curiousity (and a bit of shock) the Hungarian governments’ latest pet project, Liget Budapest. This will be the Hungarian version of the Austrian Museumsquartier. Five new museum buildings will be erected in the Budapest City Park (Városliget) by 2018.
One of them is scheduled to house the collection of the Museum of Architect. The Museum was closed in 2011 and its fine collection of glass plate negatives are now stored in cabinets under a makeshift roof in the inner yard of the Gyula Forster National Centre for Cultural Heritage Management.
Another building is set to house the collection of the Museum of Photography. Currently this Museum is based in an old synagoguge in Kecskemet, with an affiliate in a historical building in Budapest.
The project is coordinated by László Baán, director of the Museum of Fine Arts and government comissioner who’s responsible for the whole project. In fact the Museum’s website features a lot of background materials on this project. Baán has very good political connecctions. A few years ago he managed to secure a separate paragraph for its Museum in the annual budget of the Government. There were funds allocated to Museums and separate funds allocated to the Museum of Fine Arts.
When watched from a distance the Liget Budapest sounds great. Watch it closer and it is not so great. The Hungarian government has a tendency to act and not to discuss, even forcefully shoving down the public’s collective throat its ideas (cue Public Enemy reference). Background materials on the project, does not feature critical voices – though there are plenty of those.
It seems proper discussion on where to house the collections and the proper selection of collections did not take place. At this moment, it seems the Hungarian government wants to move to the Buda Castle, just like the right-wing government of the 1930s (cue Public Enemy reference again) and needs the space, so the Museums which are there (and which attract plenty tourists) need to go. I will study the situation more closely and will return to this topic – if the readers don’t mind.
And finally, a few personal notes:
– Two weeks ago there was a very nice conference on classic car history at the Óbuda University, where I am a lecturer. I held a little presentation on the history of Hungarian postal electric cars. You see, I am a volunteer at the Hungarian Postal Museum (I will spend my night on the 21st at the Museum, helping out during the Night of Museums). During a short break, the leaders of MAVAMSZ, the Hungarian association responsible for classic vehicles approached me and asked me to hold a presentation in November, when FIVA, the international association responsible for classic vehicles will have its annual conference in Budapest. It will be fun
– The Photo Archive of the Hungarian National Museum just received from me a very rare (and highly collectable) photo taken by Martin Munkácsi in 1927. In turn they revealed that they received a very nice set of photos, taken by Hungarian photographer Zoltán Seidner. Seidner was often called to create the official photographs of local car dealerships and their lineup in the 1930s. This latest batch, which was unearthed is quite breathtaking. I will help the Photo Archive with annotations.