Openings Hungary

Major museum expansion scrapped

Plans to redevelop Budapest’s Museum of Fine Arts are cancelled as construction was set to begin

Plans for the new Museum of Fine Arts have been cancelled

BUDAPEST. The Hungarian gov­ernment has cancelled am­bitious plans to redevelop Budapest’s prestigious Museum of Fine Arts, just as building work was due to begin.

Contractors were preparing to create an 8,000 sq. m extension underneath Heroes’ Square where the mu­seum is situated and the museum had secured funding from the EU for the E15m project. But in a surprise move, Hungary’s right-of-­centre Fidesz party comprehensively rejected the scheme last month and is understood to want an extension above ground necessitating a new round of tenders.

According to sources close to the museum, its director Laszlo Baan was only made aware of the decision a few days before it was announced. Staff have privately expressed their distress at hearing the news, while other arts professionals in the city are concerned about the effect the intervention will have on Budapest’s international standing.

Jade Niklai, the founder of the independent Blood Mountain Foundation arts centre in Buda­pest, said: “The extension was one of the most promising developments the local arts industry had to look forward to. It is worrying that such contradictory messages from the state are circulating.” The EU may not agree to give funding to any new scheme.

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