Picasso and Monet attract hundreds of thousands to Budapest museums

Black Face Figure by Joan Ponc

In Budapest, Picasso has been packing them in at the Palace of Exhibitions. Fifty thousand people have been to see Picasso: Illustrated Books and Espana 1950 - The Decade of Rebirth. And across the other side of Budapest's Heroes square in the Museum of Fine Arts - a Monet exhibition attracted 300,000 visitors. We spoke to the director of the Palace of Exhibitions Istvan Barkoczi, and asked him - what's the secret to a successful exhibition?

"Well, it's still difficult to tell because it's still a mystery. You can calculate it to some extent but not a hundred percent. Even abroad in the big museums they sometimes have great surprises, failures, and big successes. The Monet exhibition was an absolutely unexpected success. On the other hand, I think that was to be expected. In this particular case, Picasso is a great name and it does attract visitors. In fact, I think the Spain Espana 1950 exhibition is very interesting and enjoyable but we didn't dare to show it on its own so we insisted to have a Picasso exhibition to help the Espana 1950 exhibition and these two things worked together very well because Picasso was the name which attracted people and they realised that on the major part of the Palace of Exhibitions, there is another exhibition that is very enjoyable and very interesting."

And I think Hungarians also realised that there were similarities in the way of life of nations in Europe in the 1950s.

"There were two dictatorships at the two ends of Europe. Our principle was to show the differences and also the similarities. In interior design, for example, there were so many similarities because the line that the Spanish artists in the early 1950s picked up was the 1920s and 1930s Bauhaus style. Here it was a surviving tradition as the war did not stop that sort of art and therefore it was quite familiar to us. Many of us have seen similar or almost the same pieces of furniture in their grandparents' or parents' houses. They still form a part of our present life. So, while it was sort of exotic for the Spanish, it was part of the everyday life for us."

Later this year the Palace of Exhibitions will stage a major exhibition of French art - bringing more than 400 paintings from the Louvre.