Problems of renewal and 25 minutes

Question marks about the architectural project and exhibition events of the Zsolnay Quarter in Pécs

MúzeumCafé 37.

Preserving values, the foundation of an outdoor museum or aggressive intervention in the life of a town – that is how comments concerning the Zsolnay Quarter in Pécs can be more or less classified. The institution clearly regards the time since the opening in several stages as a success story, while others raise doubts regarding the operation of its units as well as the entire establishment. However, everybody seems to agree that the area of nearly 20,000 square metres with its valuable protected buildings and a factory, which at present works at ten per cent of its former capacity, had to be rescued from entire decay. Zsolnay Heritage Management Nonprofit Ltd., based on the Zsolnay Quarter and as the successor of the European Capital of Culture 2010 Project, supervises almost all the cultural establishments in Pécs, except for the branches of the Janus Pannonius Museum. Although local residents still talk about the town centre and the outskirts (Zsolnay Quarter), outsiders, visitors and tourists often regard the whole town as a Zsolnay phenomenon. After all, if more foreigners could be drawn to visit the town with this message it was a good idea to develop the communication using the brand name. It is suggestive that at present four permanent Zsolnay exhibitions can be visited in the town – some with an individual image, although they have quite a degree of overlap. It is still a question when the problem of the “25 minutes” – the Quarter is a 25-minute walk from the centre, in addition under rather unfriendly conditions – can be resolved. Institutions, visitors and students have taken possession of the Quarter’s buildings continuously since 2010. The area has by now become one of Hungary’s largest and perhaps most active cultural districts.