Medieval Hungary: The Age of the Árpád Dynasty

The yr 2022 marks the 800th anniversary of the issuance of the Golden Bull by King Andrew II.  Issued at the 1222 Food plan held at Fehérvár, the Golden Bull is just one of the cornerstones of the medieval Hungarian constitutional program and its anniversary made a ideal possibility to arrange a major exhibition devoted to Hungary’s first ruling household, the Árpád Dynasty. These an exhibition has been planned for at minimum a 10 years and curators at the Hungarian Countrywide Museum have well prepared a proposal for a key exhibition with intercontinental financial loans. In 2017 governing administration aid came, together with the decision that the exhibition should really be held at Székesfehérvár, to mark the anniversary of the Golden Bull and to inaugurate a newly renovated museum setting up belonging to the King Saint Stephen Museum. Curators were being appointed from equally establishments and the prolonged operate of securing financial loans and making ready a catalog was commenced. At the commencing of 2019 a new authorities-funded establishment, the Institute of Hungarian Investigation commenced its functions. The Minister of Human Means (in cost of cultural affairs) delegated this Institute to the consortium making ready the exhibition. Operate ongoing and the scheduled day of opening was nearing – even though the renovation of the Székesfehérvár museum constructing was not however done.

Installation view

Then late in December of 2021, Miklós Kásler, Minister of Human Resources – in arrangement with the freshly appointed director of the Hungarian Nationwide Museum, László L. Simon – introduced in an e-mail that the appointment of the curators (Etele Kiss, Ágnes Ritoók, and Erika Simonyi of the Hungarian National Museum) is being withdrawn, and Miklós Makoldi of the Institute of Hungarian Study is appointed as the new curator of the exhibition. Generating these kinds of a transfer 3 months just before the opening of a major exhibition is really shocking even in Hungary and obviously, a scandal broke out. Offered the point that Miklós Makoldi, an archeologist without a doctorate and any appropriate museum-relevant skills was about to consider over the success of a few several years of operate by a group of experienced museum curators, many students made a decision that they no more time want to take part in these a job. In the conclusion, 25 students signed an open up letter, withdrawing their contributions from the catalog of the exhibition (which was now nearing completion). In this situation, many people today doubted that the exhibition could be opened at all. In the close, the exhibition – titled Kings and Saints, The Period of the Árpád Dynasty – opened on March 18, 2022, in a previous monastery turned into a museum at Székesfehérvár. Due to the instances, even so, the outcome quantities to a monumental skipped option.

The Monomachos Crown (Hungarian National Museum)

Enable me describe in depth. Makoldi, the new curator of the exhibition, experienced no likelihood or time to transform the strategy of the exhibition. He only modified 3 rooms of the exhibition, mainly to take out references to the non-Hungarian populace of medieval Hungary (such as Carolingians and Slavs from the initially part working with the Hungarian conquest and a chapter about Muslims, Jews, and several Jap nomadic folks living in the Kingdom of Hungary). You can browse the explanation of the Institute and see for oneself. In any scenario, the new curator labored with the original synopsis and item listing – getting more than other people’s perform, if you will. However, the authentic strategy could not be understood. Numerous vital financial loans did not make it to Székesfehérvár (the Cross of Adelheid from Lavantall is a person such object stated in the press, but there are lots of other individuals). It is really hard to inform what role the scandal performed in the circumstance of missing financial loans – I believe the location in Székesfehérvár could also have performed a function in this. Not the deal with by itself, but the simple fact that the museum making in Székesfehérvár was accomplished just a couple of months right before the opening of the exhibition, so loan providers could not validate that it is up to intercontinental specifications necessary for sensitive objects. 

Lehel’s horn from Jászberény

Enklopion from Maastricht
The exhibition mounted with the remaining objects continue to is made up of many highlights and presents a good overview of Árpád-age Hungary. In accordance to the first concept, the objects are organized in 17 sections, ranging from the period of the Hungarian Conquest to an overview of saints from the Árpád Dynasty. The website of the exhibition (a function in development at the time of writing) lists the chapters. Many of the highlights – the Monomachos Crown, the crown with lilies from Margaret Island, or some stone carvings – occur from the Hungarian Countrywide Museum. There are important objects from Székesfehérvár and other Hungarian museums (these types of as the Lehel’s horn/olifant from Jászberény).  A amount of latest archaeological finds – such as a reliquary and other finds from Pétermonostora – are on see. There are numerous overseas financial loans as well: the sword of Saint Stephen from Prague, stone carvings from previous monasteries now positioned in Serbia or Romania, significant manuscripts from many libraries, a flag with the double-cross of the Árpád Dynasty from Bern, or even the tombstone of the Blessed Elisabeth of Töss, daughter of King Andrew III (from the Landesmuseum in Zürich). Real highlights, these kinds of as the 12th century double cross in the Dommuseum of Salzburg and in particular the hugely innovative 13th-century courtroom goldsmith functions (the Zaviš-cross, the cross made from diadems in Cracow or the Bern (Königsfelden) diptych) are sadly lacking from the exhibition. Granted, these types of financial loans are really challenging to safe and not all of these objects ended up even envisioned in the first circumstance of the exhibition – but these kinds of an exhibition is a one-time opportunity in a technology and this chance was unfortunately missed. 
A screen of stone carvings

The exhibition also does not choose advantage of remaining in Székesfehérvár. Despite the fact that there are references to the royal basilica devoted to the Virgin – the coronation church and most essential burial area of Hungarian kings – the real web site of the church was closed at the time of my stop by (despite the fact that supposedly it is open up every day from April 1st). The extremely critical Árpád-period stone carvings from this church continue being mainly inaccessible – a museum scheduled to turn into their new residence will open up only by the close of the 12 months.


Finds from Pétermonostora

In addition, it is apparent that the new curator and his workforce scrambled to place the exhibition jointly in the three months at their disposal. As there is no listing of the exhibition crew, it is tough to notify who did what, but two months soon after the opening day, the exhibition looked fifty percent-completed. All the rooms are darkly lit (even rooms with stone carvings and goldsmith objects), the object labels are rather impossible to examine and some of them are even missing. Some critical objects are put in dark corners or close to the flooring, or at the back again of substantial showcases. The larger exhibition graphics are avoidable and terribly created in typical: a area of the Bayeaux tapestry stands in to illustrate 11th-century battles in Hungary, the Legend of Saint Ladislas from the Hungarian Angevin Famous was tailored to a graphic of a pretend medieval stained glass window series, some kings lifted from the 14th-century Illuminated Chronicle are mislabeled, etcetera. There is no rationalization for the comprehensive absence of any information and facts in English in the exhibition. There are some interactive movie screens – but no new written content was formulated for them, they basically present films recycled from other venues and exhibitions. Of class, there is no catalog in any language or any publication in any way, due to the lack of authors (see earlier mentioned). All this makes it difficult to reach any sort of intercontinental impression with the exhibition All this even with the 506 million HUF (about 1,3 million euros) budget from federal government help focused to the exhibition. A missed option, in fact.

13th-century crown from Margaret Island, HNM

Inspite of these important shortcomings, do check out the exhibition if you get a prospect. Objects that are if not hard to see and some highlights are absolutely value a check out. The unique strategy of the exhibition can even now be adopted (as prolonged as you read Hungarian…) and Székesfehérvár is only about 45 minutes from Budapest by educate. The exhibition will be on check out right until June 15, 2022.

Fragments from the tomb of Queen Gertrude, from Pilis Abbey

14th-century reliquary of St. Stephen from Aachen

(photos my very own, taken with permission)

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