BUDAPEST.-Prominent museums in Europe have seen a dramatic increase in the number of their visitors. Similarly, in recent years exhibitions in Hungarian museums have shown that a large-scale show can attract thousands of visitors to museums. At the same time visitors needs have also changed and museums are not only entrusted with the preservation and display of works of art but are also expected to function as a kind of experience centre. Museum buildings that were designed in the early 20th century are no longer suitable for catering to newly arising needs, which is why they need to be extended with new spaces for the new functions. Today a good café and restaurant are essential features of a museum, as are a museum shop of a high standard, kids zones, a modern information centre for visitors and a multifunctional auditorium.
In accordance with the governments resolution of 27th July 2007, the Museum of Fine Arts is entitled to receive HUF 3.5 billion EU funding, which means that the museum can be extended by approximately 6,000 square meters of floor space. The planned underground visitor-friendly museum and tourist portal will be the largest scale development project in the museums history since its opening. The new extension, to be constructed below street level, will accommodate spaces, functions and services (a seasonal exhibition space, a kids zone, an auditorium, a museum shop, a café, and a restaurant), which are all essential in a prominent European museum. The plan can be implemented in such a way that the architectural integrity of the original museum building, designed by Albert Schikedanz, will be unaffected, while tourists arriving at one of Budapests most frequented squares will be welcomed under radically different circumstances. The HUF 3.8-billion development project, which is to be completed by 2010, not only includes constructing an extension to the museum but also the establishment of an important, new tourist centre on the capital citys Heroes Square, which itself forms part of the World Heritage.
The minister of culture entrusted the planning of the project to the Field Service for Cultural Heritage (Kulturális Örökségvédelmi Szakszolgálat). Work has been carried out for two years now by the organisations chief architect Zsolt Szécsi and his associates, in co-operation with architects specialising in the field. The project brings along with it great expectations by the Hungarian and the international public. Therefore, in agreement with the Field Service for Cultural Heritage, the Museums management decided to involve prominent Hungarian architects in the project despite the time- and financial constraints. Since the regulations of the chamber of architects stipulate that no competition can be announced for ongoing projects, the two institutions invited design proposals to be submitted by acclaimed architects, based on the suggestions made by the experts of the Art Advisory Board, which the museum and the field service jointly invited to participate in the project. (The members of the Art Advisory Board: presidents Dr László Baán, Director-General of the Museum of Fine Arts, and Gábor Virágos, Director-General of the Field Service for Cultural Heritage; co-president: István Eltér, President of the Chamber of Hungarian Architects (Magyar Építész Kamara). Board members: Ferenc Dávid, art historian; Sándor Fegyverneky, chief architect of Hungary; Péter Reimholz, architect.)
Architects invited to submit their design proposals:
Mihály Balázs DLA
Ferenc Bán DLA
István Ferencz DLA I
stván Janáky DLA
Tamás Karácsony DLA
The design proposals were received on 4th February 2008. The Art Advisory Board unanimously selected Tamás Karácsony and his design proposal to be integrated into the remaining part of the planning procedure.
The plans for the new wing will be jointly drawn up by Tamás Karácsony and Zsolt Szécsi, while its connections with the old building and the architectural design of the related reconstruction work will be done by István Mányi. Thus, the strongest elements of these three peoples work will be integrated into the project of the underground extension.
The planning and the procedure of approval are under way according to schedule. The Museum keeps in contact with the Cultural Heritage Office and with the authorities involved in the procedure of approval. The contract is to be signed in July 2008. Actual construction work can begin in the spring of 2009 and it is expected that the project will be completed by 2010.