4.2.2 Heritage issues and policies
Lately, the issue of preventive archaeological explorations before investment projects received special attention. This exploration of the terrain happens at the expense of the investment that 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 2007 a central government agency was given the task of coordinating such excavations. In 2010, the new government returned the priority to execute such works to the county 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 Minister of the Interior. The deputy secretary in charge of construction, regional and urban planning took up this task by installing departments for the protection of heritage and for archaeology. 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 new institution is named Forster Gyula Nemzeti Örökséggazdálkodási és Szolgáltatási Központ, National Centre for Heritage Management and Services, carrying the name of a 20th century specialist.
The National Gallery (Magyar Nemzeti Galéria) was fused with the Museum of Fine Arts (Szépművészeti Múzeum) in 2012, which was partly explained as the reconstruction of the joint structure before 1957. A further reason is the close relationship to the government of the successful general director of Szépművészeti, who at the same time is in charge of the preparation of the future museum quarter: planning becomes easier when in charge of a significant part of the actual museum infrastructure. EU funds have facilitated the reconstruction of the Hungarian Museum of Natural History (Természettudományi Múzeum). The announcement therefore that the National Institute of Public Administration moves to the building caused surprise and concern.
The main problem with these (and similar) moves are that political decisions and announcements are not preceded by consultations with representative professional bodies, or stakeholders in general.
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.
Table 13 (see chapter 8.2.1) shows a slow but steady decrease in the number of licensed museums, which is due to the downgrading of fully licensed museums to exhibition places with lesser obligation, due to diminishing resources of the regions and municipalities.
The museum community benefits 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.
Currently four items are inscribed on the UNESCO world list of Intangible Cultural Heritage. The latest two were adopted in 2012: the folk art of the matyó, involving a few villages in the north-east of the country, as well as the tradition of falconry, jointly with 11 other countries. The national inventory of intangible cultural heritage contains 18 items. (http://szellemiorokseg.hu/eng).
In 2013, the 6th Hungarian item was added to the Memory of the World Register – the documentary heritage of the discovery of the causes of childbed fever and elaborating prevention against it by Ignaz Semmelweis between 1847-1861.