The location of the First Bastion exhibition holds an intricate history full of myths and enigmas: Táncsics utca 9. served as the kammerhof or exchequer during the reign of Bela IV. of Hungary. By the early 14th century, it transformed into a royal estate housing foreign visitors, while John Zápolya saw the location as one that played a potent role in military defense, commissioning a bastion to be built across the piece of land.
By the 19th century, the bastion had transformed into a prison housing the most dangerous opponents of the monarchy. This is where a key figure of the 1848 revolution, Mihaly Táncsics was held. In 1948, the US claimed the land as its own territory as part of a deal concerning WWII compensations.
Táncsics utca 9. was marked by the course of history, offering a potent avenue for local and international audiences, history and politics buffs to explore the most-crucial developments taking place in Hungary in the course of the past nine hundred or so years.
The curators of the First Bastion tap into this enormous potential. Following some three years of archeological investigations, the new show comprises the valuable paraphernalia found in the territory. These include the traditional coffee cups and implements used during the early years of the Turkish invasion, furnace tiles depicting Saint George’s vicious fight with a dragon, and half-a-meter long pipes that were a common denominator of material wealth during the Turkish invasion. The archeologists succeeded to uncover a vast collection of coins as well, including two hundred European and seven hundred Turkish silvers. Cannon balls, knives, rings, and thimbles have also been included in the vast, imposing vitrines of the exhibition.
The exhibition wouldn’t have been possible without the latest reconstruction and restoration technologies. Championing an interdisciplinary approach, the First Bastion exhibition offers a rare glimpse into the historical, political and socio-cultural tendencies that shaped and formed this slice of land. What’s more, the show also marks a breakthrough in Hungarian exhibition-organizing practices, championing a pioneering, world-first approach towards the representation of different historical eras.
While the building of the bastion-turned-prison was transformed into an exhibition space for the occasion, the outside areas of the location house the larger-size remnants and ruins. The organizers decided to open up the previous, cave-like, underground structures into a pathway for visitors, allowing them to explore the multi-faceted properties of the space up close.
A side-exhibition at the Lőportár welcomes younger visitors with a vast array of puzzles, interactive exhibits, and fun games. A set of films explore the historical developments of the space, while another explains in great detail the various procedures that have gone into the restoration. There are other exhibits explaining the archival and documentation processes as well.
The First Bastion marks the first stage of a long-term archival process. Táncsics utca 9. is brimming with a medley of treasures, the pop-up exhibition marks the endpoint of the first phase of years-long archeological work yet to take place.
The First Bastion is on show until October 31st, 2019.