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From 2015, the Prime Minister’s Office will be working on a ‘new, comprehensive modification’ of the heritage protection regulations.

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Hungary/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.2 Heritage issues and policies

The Partnership Agreement between Hungary and the European Union on 2014-2020 highlights "the eight world heritage sites, ten national parks, and sixteen qualified spas of Hungary as unique development resources that shall be protected in a sustainable and economically fruitful manner". The document emphasises that 70% of the Hungarian municipalities have cultural heritage sites, which shall be protected and benefited from while municipal developments.

Preventive archaeological explorations before investment projects offered unprecedented opportunities for excavations and subsequent activities especially at the time of a massive programme of motorway construction. Such exercises also produced additional revenues for museums. In 2011, however, conditions took a u-turn, benefiting investors in terms of financial burden and deadlines, which in 2012 were crowned by switching primary responsibility for the entire scope of built heritage, including archaeology, from the minister of culture to the that of the interior, and then in 2014, to the Prime Minister's Office. The National Office of Cultural Heritage was dissolved and the majority of the staff, including its officials in the counties, was transferred to the regional government authorities for general administration. Some units remained in the remit of the cultural administration and fused with the National Trust for Monuments (Műemlékek Nemzeti Gondnoksága), which had been managing a selection of revitalised monuments. The Lechner Lajos Kutatóközpont (research institute, background institution of the ministry) also merged into a new institution, named Forster Gyula Nemzeti Örökséggazdálkodási és Szolgáltatási Központ, National Centre for Heritage Management and Services, carrying the name of a 20th century specialist. As of 2015 the National Museum's archaeology-related tasks, including coordination of great investments, also belong to the new heritage management institution. At the same time, the Prime Minister's Office has taken charge of a "new, comprehensive modification" of the heritage protection regulations.

The person of the director of the Forster Centre often changes. Current priorities of the Centre are: 1) continuing the "National Hauszmann Plan" for the renewal of the Buda Castle world heritage area, under the control of János Lázár, a Minister of the Prime Minister's Office; 2, National Palace Programme empowering palaces and mansions with “cultural content, modern functions that would transform the sites self-sustainable on the long-term”; 3, implementing the National Castle Programme, with the main focus on hilltop fortresses.

The Pan European Picnic Memorial Park is among those sixteen sites that were awarded the European Heritage Label in 2015 due to its role in European history. The built heritage of Hungarians living beyond the border has been the focus of Teleki László Foundation's activity. A private non-profit organisation, with roots in the 1980s, gets regular support from the National Cooperation Fund (Nemzeti Együttműködés Alap) of the government.

Next to the Prime Minister's Office a National Heritage Institute (Nemzeti Örökség Intézet) was set up in 2013 to take care of national memory sites and graves. It has identified 14 national sites and 46 historical sites, approved by government decree. 15 of them are in the capital. Awareness raising is the primary aim of the programmes related to those sites.

Also in 2013 the Committee of National Remembrance was established to scrutinise the legacy of the country's communist legacy mainly by academic activity.

In 2015 the Bureau of National Anniversary Years (Nemzeti Emlékévek Irodája) was set up within the Forster Centre although the website of the Balassi Institute still features a Bureau of National Anniversaries (Nemzeti Évfordulók Irodája). EU funds have facilitated the reconstruction of the Hungarian Museum of Natural History (Természettudományi Múzeum). The announcement therefore that the National University of Public Service would be moved to the building caused surprise and concern. The first phase of the adaptation to the new function was completed by spring 2014 – based on additional EU financial support – and now the new university and the museum share the building.

Entrance to the permanent exhibitions of the 24 museums run by the state was free of charge between 2004 and 2007. A considerable part of the museum profession argued that the loss of box office revenue was not sufficiently compensated by the government, and the change in number and composition of increased visitor numbers did not match the expectations. Therefore entry fees were re-introduced from 2008.

The museum community has benefited from the EU Structural Funds through various regional development projects, in addition to the national project that finances the training of museum staff and funds the upgrading of pedagogical facilities in museums.

For more information, see
European Heritage Network: Country profile Hungary

Chapter published: 08-11-2016

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