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National Museum’s New Exhibition Displays Devastating Impact of Trianon

Péter Cseresnyés 2020.10.09.

To mark the 100th anniversary of the Treaty of Trianon, the Hungarian National Museum organized a temporary exhibition at Museum Garden titled: “Szenvedő szerkezet – Hétköznapi Trianon.” The exhibit’s goal is to show what it was like to experience the excruciating trauma of Trianon at the time, and get a sneak peek at what life might have been like in Hungary in the following decade.

The title of the exhibition “Szenvedő szerkezet,” is a play on words which translates to “passive voice.” However, the word “szenvedő” can also be translated as ” an endurer” or “sufferer;” therefore, the term in fact refers to Hungary which had to accept the Trianon Peace Treaty under which Hungary lost two-thirds of its territory to neighboring countries, and also to the Hungarian people who had to experience the trauma of the new borders that were redrawn over their heads.

Photo: Attila Lambert/Hungary Today

The traveling exhibition takes place in a huge 300 m², semi-spherical tent in the Museum Garden just outside of the Hungarian National Museum, and will catch the attention of anyone passing by with its robust, somewhat futuristic appearance.

Photo: Attila Lambert/Hungary Today

At the entrance, various wooden signs show important dates and information about the Great War including Hungary’s shocking death toll. Upon entering the dark room with a grim and gloomy atmosphere, you can get an insight into what it might have been like to experience the trauma of Trianon one hundred years ago, and get a feeling of the everyday life at the time.

Photo: Attlia Lambert/Hungary Today

Inside the tent the first thing you can see is the “Nagybajom” town name plaque, pointing to the exhibition’s first station, which focuses on the signing of the Treaty in Versailles on June 4, 1920. This name, just like the title of the exhibition, is clever wordplay, since the name of the Hungarian town found in Somogy county roughly means “my great misery.”

Photo: Attila Lambert/Hungary Today

At the exhibition, you can find yourself in the characteristic, stylized spaces of the early 20th century, among life-size, novel, interactive installations. One of the most notable strengths of the exhibition is that it manages to skillfully combine the artifacts from that time period with innovative, interesting and interactive digital solutions.

Photo: Attila Lambert/Hungary Today

Perhaps the most creative piece is a projector, which casts pictures onto blank pages. Anytime you turn pages, thanks to a motion sensor, a new image gets projected onto the papers. What makes this installation all the more exciting is the content of the images showing sketches about the most prominent theories on what the main reasons are that led to Trianon.

Photo: Attila Lambert/Hungary Today

The centenary exhibition focuses on different aspects of life, such as agriculture, healthcare, education, and finance, and shows the direct consequences of the Treaty of Trianon in each of them, painting a horrible, sad picture. It manages to achieve all this without ever stepping out of objectivity for even a moment. And this is one of the main accomplishments of it.

Szenvedő Szerekezet kiállítás

Photo: Attila Lambert/Hungary Today

The traveling exhibition can be visited free of charge in the Museum Garden until October 12th, after which it is planned to be in Tata, Mosonmagyaróvár, and Hajdúböszörmény.

Featured photo by Attila Lambert/Hungary Today