Tátrai Vilmos szerk.: A Szépművészeti Múzeum közleményei 92-93.(Budapest, 2000)
The Museum of Fine Arts in 1999
THE BUDAPEST MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS IN 1999 In 1999 the temporary exhibitions numbered well above average, and an important task of the year was preparation for the exhibitions of the millennial year of 2000. Our exhibitions, owing to intensive public relations activity, attracted 205 707 Hungarian and foreign visitors. The temporary exhibitions were mainly based on the Museum's own collections —in some cases on our "hidden reserves," works that have not been exhibited for decades —and on the staff's scholarly and intellectual production. To a lesser extent, the Museum has given room to exhibitions from abroad — fulfilling its primary function also in this respect —, at which works of Austrian, Portuguese, Italian, German, and Romanian ownership were exhibited. The most memorable event of the year in the history of the institution was certainly the restitution of Giorgio Vasari's Wedding at Cana to the Museum (fig. 79). This small oil painting, originating from the Esterházy collection, was considered as the most serious war loss of World War II. After the war, it was at an unknown location until 1964 when it appeared in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in Canada. Its longwished international restitution was prepared with persistent scholarly and diplomatic work and was finally effected by the Hungarian Government Delegation lead by the Prime Minister, after the Canadian Government had redeemed the painting from the foundation that owned it. Subsequently, this piece of our national artistic heritage was exhibited temporarily in the vestibule of the Museum so that it could be viewed by all visitors free of charge. The preparation and realisation of the exhibition of works from the Old Masters' Gallery and the Collection of Prints and Drawings at the Book Fair of Frankfurt was executed with less success. The programme was hindered by a great deal of scholarly and personal problems that put the staff and the direction of the institute to a great trial. The reconstruction of the museum building continued uninterruptedly in the eastern wing. The renovation of the Baroque Hall was brought near to completion. The official opening of the hall will take place in January 2000, and will be followed by the installation of an exhibition of Baroque paintings to be opened on occasion of the next Spring Festival. At the same time, the renovation of the adjacent Doric Hall and the recovery and restoration of its original architectural ornamentation was continued. In the same part of the building, the renovation of the study rooms of the Department of Antiquities, of the Old Masters' Gallery and of the Collection of Prints and Drawings, as well as the conservation workshops of prints and drawings, and the room of the specialised library for Antique art on the ground floor and mezzanine halls were partly completed and partly brought near to completion.