“And then profound silence”

Éva F. Petres, archaeologist, former deputy director of the King Stephen Museum in Székesfehérvár

MúzeumCafé 37.

Éva F. Petres speaks about the “marvel” of Gorsium, the background to its cult and formation, the shelter for museologists affected by the 1956 revolution, the scandal surrounding the opening and closure of the Csontváry exhibition in 1963, the regional council president, who enthused over archaeological finds, and the insoluble situation of the royal tombs. She sketches the recent history of an exciting provincial arts centre, the King Stephen Museum. She also recalls Jenő Fitz, who died in 2011, the museum’s former director who, as an excavator of Gorsium, a diplomatic fixer of cultural-political support for the institute, a figure deserving of great respect. Initially she and Jenő Fitz, who was her husband, both worked on all sorts. Later, besides archaeology she got involved with educational activities, and public relations. Her first dig took place in 1950. At the time they both worked in the museum; then still in the 1950s they were joined by an ethnographer, and later came a period of a ‘shelter’ in the wake of the 1956 events. What became the Csók István Gallery was originally built for the town as a community centre. When the couple arrived it was empty, since it had been built during the war but still lacked finishing touches. The museum obtained it and here was organised the Csontváry exhibition and later a series surveying 20th-century arts, from the turn of the century to contemporary times. Éva F. Petres sees the museum’s destiny as rather gloomy. Péter Kovács was thought to be the successor but he soon left. Gyula Fülöp directed the institute for several periods but unfortunately the entire structure fell apart during his time. She is currently writing her history of the museum with the title Once there was a Museum. The final phrase will be: “And then profound silence.”