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Permanent exhibitions

Our heritage – Centuries of Tolna County

The permanent exhibition with the title “Our heritage – Centuries of Tolna County” focuses on the presentation of the traditional world, a world, which time-limits – leastwise that of the ending time – are quite blurry. 1848-49 can only be considered as a margin of an epoch only in the aspects of political history; in the social history there are no such sharp borderlines between the eras. The process of embourgeoisement lasted over a century, regarding its roots even more, and the new world arriving with the industrialisation preserves past in its habits, traditions and material culture. According to this approach, although the exhibition ends with the epoch of the civil war, several objects introduced in the interiors have been made decades later.

The conception of the exhibition was already set up in 2001, and we planned due to shortage of money a several-year settlement, by knowing that this method is in many points arguable. Thanks to the Alfa-programme organised by the NKÖM (Ministry of Education and Culture) the processes were accelerated, as we managed to win a tender – with our application ranked to firt place -, and gained nearly 90 million forints in 2004 and 2005. As maintainer, the Government of Tolna County added every year 5 million forints to this sum.

The new permanent exhibition is also about Tolna County, but in an other form, than the old one. The chronicle includes those 700 years of the Middle Ages (medieval period), which were left out from the former exhibition. This complex, totality-aiming undertaking can strengthen the population’s sense of identity and the connection to the home land in the county, this traditional formation that is foredoomed to fade slowly away due to the regionalisation.

The available four rooms are nearly 400 m2-s, which have been enlarged with another 150 m2-s by dividing the high headroom horizontally, and working out galleries. This solution provides an unusual look, and can be used very effectively. The lower floor gives place for the introduction of the objects, ethnics and specific scenery of our past through models, reconstructions and interiors; while the gallery houses some background information in an easy overviewable form, which may make the world visualised downstairs more easy to understand.

With other words, the lower level emphasizes the visualisation and the atmosphere, while the upper contains interesting data and curiosities worth spending some time on. By working out the conception, we gave attention to make the visitors feel, they are not just spectators, but active participants of the exhibition. With the help of computers, several interactive elements are built into the exhibition, providing opportunity for gathering information and playing as well. Besides computer programmes, we also organised other animating activities, moreover the area under the stairs of room no.3 has been built over to a “playhouse” for our youngest visitors, where they can make stamps, drawings, get known with different shapes and colours, and the children can also try on clothes from those times. Every exhibition bases on many compromises, so does ours. The correctness of our choices is – besides professionals – primarily decided by the guests. If they like them – not only now, but even after ten years -, then we can be satisfied with our work.

Christian memories of Tolna County in the Middle Ages

The first room of the exhibition introduces the Christian memories of the county in the medieval times, when the county far larger expanse than at present. The timeline of the topic begins with the evolution of Christianity and ends with the development of the reformation in the 16th century. The showroom visualises the in part reconstructed, in part fictional inner of a church in the Middle Ages. The atmosphere for this is granted by the local lights (darkening, directional lights), the Hungarian Gregorian music and the stone elements and graphical complementaries in the other end of the room, closing down the church. The room walls are divided by ten half-columns, which are decorated by more enlarged, coloured 15th century book-illustrations.

The room is made up of two main parts: a basement and a gallery. At the right side of the entrance a sacred area with the atmosphere of the medieval times awaits the visitors. The decoration contains primarily graven stones from the Benedictine Abbey-church at the Béla square in Szekszárd. The aisle of the church is framed by a star vault ceiling reconstruction. On the walls of the stairs leading up to the gallery, we placed copies of the wall-paintings in the temple of Mecseknádasd – a village in Tolna – and highlighted them with special spotlights.

To keep perspectivity, we planned a background-graphic on the right wall from the entrance. In front of the graphic, we placed a podium on which a scene symbolising a main step of the establishment of the country – the conversion to Christianity – can be seen. On one axis of the room, we placed a gothic gravestone and the mock of Decs-Ete, a parish church in the County. In a corner of the ground floor, you can find the shoulder-stone of Szekszárd, which was originally situated one floor high in the rood (choir) screen. In the area under the gallery and its stairs on the left side, we introduce some of the county’s sacred reliefs, smaller graven stone and grave findings.

With using the famous column capitals of the Benedictine monastery of Szekszárd, built in the 11th century, we introduce the interior of a Babylonian shrine from the early Árpád age. Two capitals can be found under the outer edge of the gallery, near the gravestone from Báta, the other two are positioned under the gallery. In the deeper case under the stairs on the right side we give a historical overview of Hungary’s church organisation with the help of a multi-media platform.
The gallery houses documents of Tolna County’s church organisation, and in connection with the reformation, a 17th century communion cup from Bogyiszló.

Insight into the history of the settlements of Tolna Countyin

the 11-17th centuries.

The second room presents an epoch beginning at the establishment of the country and ending with the occupation period. The visitors get here an insight into the general settlement history, the average life in these settlements, some memorable buildings through the introduction of some deeply studied settlements or themes.

On the ground floor, the room contains mostly different objects about the settlement system of the county: pictures, photographs (also from the air), excavation photographs, drawings-engravings, survey-drawings, plotting plans, maps, models, interiors and other objects make the picture more detailed.

The settlement network of the county is visualised by a photo from the space, next to it, we can find a map, which was designed according available historical data, highlighting the road network, marketplaces, important trading and regional points in the Middle Ages.

We also can study the structure of some settlements (Ozora, Ete, Őcsény-Oltovány, Simontornya, etc.), meet some buildings (house from the Árpád Age, castle, mansion, part of a multi-structured house) and activities of everyday’s life if the chosen settlement (pottery, stove building, braziery, jewellery).

With the help of computer programmes we also introduce the lands of Tolna County, the archaeological surveys in Ozora and Ete, and we give a little taste of the castles of Tolna.

The second main part of the room is the gallery, on which we find the history of the public administration within the period. Along with documents of the royal, later the noble comitatus, we can also find the most important families (from the lesser and the higher nobility) of the county. We can also study the Turkish occupation, and the every day’s life in the county.

On the gallery’s columns we introduce some of our rulers in pictures, who were closely connected to our county, and also other people who played a great role in the county’s history.

Rebuilding and consolidation.

Room no. 3. recalls the times after the Turkish occupation, the difficulties in the beginning, and the 150 years of peaceful development after that. Referring to the early times, the visitors can see first a picture of the landscape and a ship on the Danube with German settlers on board. Then a picture from after more than 100 years: the world of market towns with crowded markets and workshops of craftspeople in guilds, indicating the success of new beginning after the Turkish.

The outcome of the Turkish occupation was disastrous: the settlement network of the Middle Ages was destroyed, the lands were gone wild. The repopulation of the county has started in the 1720’s, settlers arriving were mainly from areas of the German empire.

In the first half of the 19th century, Tolna County had appreciably more market towns than the surrounding counties. Due to their rights to hold markets, most market towns became trading centres in their region.

The town craftsmen played a significant role in meeting the needs of the village population. The so called “market-craftsmen” were producing solely for the countryside; they were primarily boot-makers, tailors, hat-makers. The majority of agriculture tools were produced by the blacksmiths, the wainwrights (wheel-wrights), the coopers, the rope-makers and the saddlers. The craftsmen organised into guilds. The guild was a (trade) union, which was established by master craftsmen of a profession.

The economical, social procedures of the period beginning with Rákóczi’s war of independence are presented in the exhibition cases and tables on the gallery.

Room no. 4 gives us an insight into the double-faced society of orders. The nobility on one side, the peasantry on the other, both with their typical, but very much differing material and spiritual culture. Two separate worlds, which are however because of their interdependence closely connected, and which showed a much more complex picture in reality, than it can be introduced through objects and findings at an exhibition. The floor level of the room gives an insight into the world of mansions, and with the interior of a pub and a multi-structure house from Sárköz also into life in the villages.

The “verbuválás” was the recruitment procedure connected with dancing and amusement that evolved after setting up the regular army (1715). This free recruitment was especially effective at the cavalry regiment, so there was just a little need for impressment. The verbunkos, a specific type of tavern amusement and dancinge, was a form of recruitment at markets and other come togethers.

The Sárköz is the once swampy floodplain situated between Szekszárd and Báta, which was closed down by the Sárvíz from West to the Danube. The present settlements of Sárköz are: Őcsény, Decs, Sárpilis, Alsónyék, Báta. The territory is since the conquest of Hungary populated, and has achieved a high level of development in the medieval times. The assertive population of the market towns made Sárköz one of the important centres of the reformation. The number of inhabitants was heavily cut down during the Turkish occupation, and with the end of the water regulation in the Middle Ages, a large number of the villages in Sárköz turned into desolate swamplands. The Sárköz-villages surviving the occupation remained unharmed during the national movements of the 18th century, and they also kept their reformed religion. In consequence of the flood control in the 19th century, the area went through explosive changes, and developed a rich folk art.

The gallery houses documents and data about some aspects of the noble and peasant-culture.


7100 Szekszárd, Szent István tér 26.

Phone/fax: +36 74 316 222

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