Museum of Applied Arts secretive about artwork loaned to the prime minister’s office
Since January 2019, the Office of the Prime Minister is not in the House of Parliament any longer. Viktor Orban’s office moved into the former Carmelite Monastery in the Buda Castle. The building is decorated with artwork borrowed from public collections: the National Gallery, the Museum of Fine Arts, the National Museum and the Museum of Applied Arts. The latter won’t tell us which artwork they loaned to the prime minister’s office, citing ’crime prevention.’
The government and its propaganda media emphasize that the new office of the prime minister is simple and austere. It does look simple with its white walls and dark furniture. It was also reported that the offices would be decorated from artwork from Hungarian public collections.
This Atlatszo filed freedom of information requests with all museums to learn which pieces of artwork were loaned to the prime minister’s new office.
Replies to our request revealed that the carpets of the building complex were borrowed from the Museum of Fine Arts, and several paintings and sculptures are loaned by the National Gallery.
Starting January 2019, the Office of the Prime Minister is not in the House of Parliament any longer. Viktor Orban’s office moved into the former Carmelite Monastery in the Buda Castle. The government and its propaganda media emphasize that the new office of the prime minister is simple and austere.
Another freedom of information request revealed that besides those, 14 other pieces of artwork were loaned to Orban’s new office by the National Museum. Most of them are portraits of historic Hungarian men – statesmen, warriors, and nobility.
We also received a reply from the Museum of Applied Arts. However, they used a trick: they sent three separate spreadsheets. One contained the names of the pieces of artwork loaned. Another contained the duration of the loan. And the third contained the name of the borrower. The latter revealed that one of the institutions that received loaned artwork is the PM’s office.
However, it is not possible to link the data points on the spreadsheets – that is, we cannot tell which pieces of artwork are in Orban’s office.
We asked the museum to clarify the data and help us understand which pieces were loaned to the PM’s office. They did not reply, thus we contacted the National Authority for Data Protection and Freedom of Information (NAIH).
We have recently received a reply from NAIH which said that the Museum of Applied Arts is unwilling to give us the complete data citing ’crime prevention reasons’ and actually wants to make the data classified.
Viktor Orban’s new, supposedly ‘austere’ offices are decorated with artwork from the most prestigious Hungarian museums. Last week Atlatszo revealed that the prime minister’s new office in the Buda castle has 38 pieces of artwork borrowed from the National Gallery and carpets from the Museum of Applied Arts.
Written by Katalin Erdélyi
English version by Anita Kőműves. You can read the original, Hungarian-language story here.