Information fragments on building the Museum of Modern Hungarian Arts

A review of the situation in December 2000


1st supposition
In 1999 (or maybe at the beginning of the year 2000) the Minister of National Cultural Heritage (?) had an idea that the country needs a Museum of Contemporary/Modern Hungarian Arts, but as there was no money for it (the amount appropriated for museum building in the budget of 2001-2002, HUF 6.5 billion was spent on the technical facility established on the Ganz area), the idea remained an idea.

1st fact
Before announcing the results of the architectural tender invited in connection with the National Theatre the government had made an agreement with Dunapark Sétány Ingatlanfejlesztő Kft. (Danube Bank Promenade Property Development Ltd. – DSI), founded by TriGránit Rt. hallmarked with the name of Sándor Demján on building the theatre, previously determining the cost of the construction. At the same time the government sold the 6 remaining former Expo plots to DSI for HUF 2 billion. According to certain plans there is a natural connection between the rather low construction cost undertaken in connection with building the theatre and the low price requested for the plots.

2nd fact
DSI commissioned an architectural company called Finta & Tsi to prepare a building development concept with respect to the whole area (in spring 2000). They prepared the concept by the summer of 2000, and according to this on the plot, which is the closest to the Lágymányosi Bridge a 140 square metre multifunctional building would be constructed. (In the building they were planning to build a hotel, car park, conference centre, office block (…) and a 7 thousand square metre building part "for museum functions".)

2nd supposition
It might have happened at this point that the Minister”s (?) "old" idea was brought into the foreground again to build the Museum of Contemporary Modern Hungarian Arts here. There were two problems: one of them was that the builder wanted to find a function for the building, which could significantly increase the number of visitors, but today there are not many Hungarian museums which could fulfil this condition. An exhibition area "spiced" with an auction hall and galleries was much closer to what they had imagined. However, state sources could not really be used for this purpose. The other problem was the shortness of the investment time. According to the original plans they should have started the construction of the building in April 2001 and it should have been finished by autumn 2002.

3rd fact
After the two parties had found each other, they soon made up their minds, and in autumn 2000 the Minister signed a declaration of intent according to which DSI would construct the building with the museum in it, the costs of which (HUF 2.1 billion) would be paid back by the state to the investor within a period of ten years. The suspicion arose that in this case again, similarly to the construction of the National Theatre, they had got round public acquisition. (They asked the profession”s opinion through the directors of two museums, which presently have contemporary collections, whether an institution of this character was needed at all in Budapest, but no further professional discussions took place.)

4th fact
Instead of real professional discussions the Ministry (!) commissioned a company called ccc + bogner, which had organised the moving of the Holy Crown, to prepare the technological plans of the museum to be built. It was interesting that ccc + bogner started to prepare the technological plans without having the detailed material of the museum”s concept, as it still does not exist. For ccc + bogner the deadline of handing in the plans was 15th December 2000.

5th fact
In the meantime the investor asked for applications from 7 architects to plan the building. They handed in their applications in November 2000, and a decision was also made.

6th fact
On Péter Fitz”s initiative the long-awaited meeting between the representatives of the profession, the Ministry and ccc + bogner was organised on 30th November 2000. According to the ministry”s representative the time had come to create the professional concept. However, he could not answer the question why it was due only after the technological and architectural plans had been prepared, or what sort of concept the finished plans had been based on. According to the representatives of ccc + bogner the most important purpose of the institution to be established was to attract as many visitors as possible. No further details could be made clear about the collection or the activity of the museum to be built. What the primary role of the new institute would be was also not clarified – would it have the function of a museum, gallery, auction hall or a house of traditions? Gábor Zoboki, architect, who won the tender later on, was also present at the meeting.

7th fact
According to the decisive majority of the representatives of the profession, under such circumstances there is no need for this museum. They would rather have a really good Museum of Contemporary and/or Modern Hungarian Arts built in ten years on the basis of a well prepared concept, than have one built now, when everything is against it: the inadequately short time for preparing a real concept, the area created inside a multifunctional office-car park-hotel-conference centre and the 7 thousand square metre unsuitable size for a museum with a collection.