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Rendering of the National Gallery of Hungary. Courtesy of SANAA.

Budapest Politicians Block Construction on New National Gallery

The groundbreaking on the new $275 million National Gallery of Hungary has been postponed after Budapest’s center-left mayor Gergely Karácsony, who took office in October, raised concerns about the building’s environmental impact on Budapest’s City Park. According to the Art Newspaper, Karácsony said that he is not opposed to the SANAA-designed museum but is against the construction of such a monumental building in one of the city’s few green spaces. 

In a vote that took place on November 5, Budapest’s General Assembly supported Karácsony’s proposal to halt the project. Work on the House of Hungarian Innovation, an exhibition venue dedicated to Hungarian technical inventions and innovations, has also been suspended. The buildings are part of Liget Budapest, a major cultural redevelopment project backed by the country’s nationalist government. The initiative was conceived in 2011 and, under Karácsony’s predecessor, István Tarlós, has already seen the renovation of Budapest’s Museum of Fine Arts, the opening of a new arts storage facility, and the refurbishment of the historic Olof Palme House.

László Baán, the general director of the Museum of Fine Arts, is among the leading figures backing Liget Budapest. In defense of the project, the arts administrator argued that the new buildings are “replacing parking spaces and long-outdated buildings planned to be demolished” and are not being constructed in green areas. While the project is on hold, other sites may be considered for the museum, which will replace the current National Gallery in Buda Castle upon completion.

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