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Nov 02, 2018 - Zoltán Kovács

PM Orbán: ‘We live at peace with ourselves’

The reopening of the Museum of Fine Arts signals the end of an era of cultural policy that “aped others and therefore was mediocre,” Prime Minister Orbán said. In a Europe where national heritage and identity are at peril, the reopening also repays a debt that has been standing for more than seventy years.

In his speech on Tuesday at the official reopening of Budapest’s renowned Museum of Fine Arts, Prime Minister Orbán said that while the western half of Europe is waging a cultural war on its own past and on its Christian roots, Hungary does not see “nation, faith and family as fossils that are embedded here, but far more as the inspiration for the most profound human feelings and passions.” 

For Hungarians, he added, our culture is a “source of beauty and goodness,” therefore “we live at peace with our own history and our own culture – in other words, with ourselves.”

The reconstruction of the Romanesque Hall of the Museum of Fine Arts is, however, only one entry in a long list of renovation projects that celebrate Hungary’s cultural heritage, its historical landmarks and buildings. Since 2010, such projects include the Hungarian Heritage House, the Castle Garden Bazaar and the Music Academy. Although Budapest hosts most of these sites, the capital is not the only city to have enjoyed these restorations. Recent years also brought new face to venues such as the Royal Palace of Gödöllő, the Grassalkovich Mansion in Hatvan, the Eszterházy Palace and the Rákóczi Museum in Sárospatak. 

Reiterating one of his principal themes, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said that if we want to live in a Christian and European Europe in a hundred years’ time, now’s the time that “we must defend our cultural essence, identity and sovereignty in the vortex of Europe’s cultural war.”

Following the three-year renovation project, involving some 15,000 square meters, more than 40 percent of the museum’s total area, the Museum of Fine Arts reopened with an exhibition focusing on the art of Leonardo Da Vinci.