Images brought to life – a small town at the century-turn
With our exhibition “Images brought to life”, we invite our visitors for a walk into a set of scenery, which envisions Szekszárd at the turn of the century. With the help of the large sized photos on the sectors we wish to represent the atmosphere of a city, which made right at that time great improvements in urbanization, but still remained a small winegrower town. This was the time when Budapest became a real metropolis, and the neighbor county seats – Pécs and Kaposvár – got increasingly the shape of a big city.
We start our walk at the train station situated in the stair flight, and continue the trip along the long passage to the big hall, where we arrive at the city center. From there we get a splendid view to the surrounding hills and to the well-known pilgrim place, the Remete chapel. On our route, we visualize the buildings of major importance on the east-western axis of the town, with the help of large-sized photographs, interiors, showcases – of course between the exhibition rooms limits. So we had to make compromises, and tried to solve the contraries between the efforts to keep topographic accordance, the available space and the themes we intend to exhibit.
If someone wished to travel from Budapest to Szekszárd at the century’s turn, he probably took the train, because since 1883, the capital was connected by railway to the seat of Tolna County. The trains started twice a day in both directions, and traveled almost eight ours until reaching the destination.
When the traveler took the way from the station to the city, soon he spotted the moor styled building of the synagogue. The Jews came to Szekszárd in masses in the middle of the 19th century, and they soon achieved an important role in the city’s economical life. The societal and legal quarantine, in which the Jews had to live in the previous decades, also began slowly to disappear. Every important person of the city and the county was present at the church consecration in 1897. The exhibition case representing the Jewish religion is decorated with a nearly 100 years old photograph of the synagogue on the side, and with objects most typical of the religion in the inside.
At the time of the synagogue’s consecration, the neighboring land, where the museum building stands now, was not built in. Though the county has already decided about the museum-establishment – accepting the antiquity collection of Count Sándor Apponyi and Abbot Priest Mór Wosinsky -, but the final place was not fixed yet. Several plans were made for this, and finally Wosinsky managed to achieve, that a separate building was built for the museum. The museum was built in record time: it took just one and a half year from the introduction of the plans of design architect Albert Schikedanz [planner of the Museum of Fine Arts and the Hall of Arts (Műcsarnok)] and the finishing of the construction works. The arrangement of the exhibition took another year. The museum was opened to the public in November 1, 1902, thanks to the contribution of many people, but the main role was undoubtedly Wosinsky’s. We visualize some stations of his life, his scientific and religious career on our photo board. We try to call back the atmosphere of the first exhibitions in the museum case. Not far away from the museum, on the corner of the former marketplace lies the imposing building of the gymnasium, built according the plans of Gyula Pártos. The documents and objects placed on the board and the exhibition case have not only the purpose to give insight into the life of the gymnasium, which carries the name of János Garay, but we wish also to give a general picture about the city’s secondary level education.
In front of the gymnasium, at the side of the walking square stood until the mid 1970’s the building of the National Silk Breeding Supervision, the ovum examiner and microscope station. We present this specific industry that flourished right around the century’s turn with the help of photographs and documents.
Passing by the building of the Silk Breeding Supervision, the building-group of the Casino Bazaar catches the eye of the visitor. The urban style bazaar row, decorated with “Jugendstil” elements was a special element of the former city view, but unfortunately it can not be seen anymore. This is probably the most spectacular part of our exhibition. The bazaar row gave place to five shops, a chemist’s, a fashion shop, a chandler, a jewelry and a photo studio. The stock of the shops was selected – of course between the given possibilities – based on the press advertisements of the age.
The other side of the narrow corridor (due to the interior-row), is filled with photograph boards, on which we introduce the nods of the urbanism, different classes and members of the farmer and craftsman society. The exhibition case giving insight into the city’s industry is in close connection with the boards. The urbanism at the dualism took place in the county seat without the improvement of the large industry, it only took place in the service sector. The exhibit case shows two newly developed professions: the mechanical artisan technician, and the electrician.
Next to the bazaar-row stood – and stands now – the Augusz-house, the building, which housed the casino in those times. As we know, the casino was not only the place for amusement and leisure, but it was also the scene of public life and politics. Besides the introduction of public life, we also present the changing role of the county. A few steps away from the Augusz house lies the Garay square, which became an other center of the city by the century’s turn along with Béla square. Before we arrive at the square, our path goes through the North-Western axis of the city, the Széchenyi street. A large sized photograph shows us the street’s section, which leads in direction Budapest. In front of it, the visitors can see a scene from ordinary life: a passenger in rich peasant clothing, an advertising pillar, a lamp post and a bicycle from the 1880’s.
The Garay square got his present look with the 1898 erection of the statue of the poet János Garay, after whom the square was named. On the last board at the end of the corridor, we introduce the birth of the Garay cult, and in connection with this we give attention to the intellectual atmosphere that characterized the epoch of the millennium in our city.
At the time of the statue dedication, the hotel building on the right existed in its present form, but then it was rebuilt from the plans of Ödön Lechner, one of the most famous architects of the age. In the interior decorated with outside pictures of the hotel, we installed a café, in which an art nouveau cupboard with mother-of-pearl inlay is the most beautiful peace.
Heading upward from Garay square, the tower of the roman catholic church in the city centre could be noticed from far away. The Roman Catholic Church is the largest denomination of Szekszárd, 4/5 of the population claimed himself to belong to it in that time. The exhibition case representing the Catholic Church contains a richly decorated red velvet chasuble, a monstrance, a cup, a missal, a holy-water font and a crucifix. The stone statue of Saint Urban and a procession flag were placed on the podium.
In the neighborhood of the church lies the county hall and the castle garden. We continue our imaginary trip here. We see Sunday passengers: an officer in infantry uniform and an elegant dame. Her dress represents the fashion of the 1890’s. At the stairs, in front of the county hall, we present some of the trappings made for the millennium feast.
The urban citizens and intellectuals, referring to the style of the century’s beginning, built new houses in Szekszárd, in which they tried to work out the bedroom-dining-room-saloon layout. We furnished a citizen’s saloon, and put typical porcelains with other ornaments of well-heeled families into the exhibition case next to the saloon.
Looking in the direction of the hills, the visitor saw vineyards and wine-press houses everywhere at the end of the 19th century. The next unit of our exhibition is composed of a wine-press house and a farm-house room. The vinery had critical times at the century’s turn, more than half of the grapes were destroyed due to phylloxera. A positive result of the pest was, that the vine-makers were pressed to renew the production, so new grape species, and new production methods appeared.
The reformats lived in a separate district beyond the city centre, in the up(per)town. On the podium in the centre of the hall, you can see a picture about the reformed church, this obtained its final look in 1885. In the exhibition case we put a bible and a cup on the covered communion table, a priest cloak with a tiara on the wall, and a christening pot, a breadplate and a wine jug on the shelves.
Going further to the hills from the reformed district, we arrive at the catholic Remete chapel, which was built after an 18th century pest epidemic as a result of an oath-swearing. The church’s send-off is held on September 8, when the catholic people of the city and of the near and far surroundings arrive in big numbers. We present a holy picture- and a “lebkuchen” seller among a Swabian man, a bride from Sióagárd and a gipsy woman in the farewell-scene.
Besides the Remete chapel, the blessed trinity statue on the Béla square also commemorates the pest epidemic. We also arrive back to Béla square and finish our early 19th century journey in front of the town hall.
Szekszárd, the market town did not take on higher administrative costs, so it became a major township in 1871, and gained the state of a town back only in 1905. The first mayor was Dr. Adam Hirling. The interior visualizes an official’s workroom at a lover level of the hierarchy.
The board introduces seal drawings of Szekszárd from different ages, portraits of the officials and different announcements. The last one is a mobilization announcement poster from August 1914, which means the end of our exhibition, but also of the epoch we used to call “time of happy peace”.
The exhibition was directed by: Sándor Balázs Kovács, Zsuzsanna Gaál, József Glósz, Mária V. Kápolnás. Lectured by: Miklós Szilágyi. Planned by: László Hámori. Designed by: Kálmán Bucsányi, Jenő Pászner, András Tövisháti, Béla Tövisháti, Museion Kft. Sponsored by: Aliscavin, 1100th Anniversary of the Settlement of the Magyars Memorial Committee, Ministry of Education and Culture, National Cultural Fund, The City of Szekszárd, Government of Tolna County, Unicornis
The exhibition was made in 1996.