Seventy-five percent of 500 respondents oppose the development of new museum buildings in Városliget (City Park), according to an opinion poll by market research organisation Ipsos for Levegő Munkacsoport (Clean Air Action Group), an environmental non-governmental organisation founded in 1988.
The respondents said they would prefer if more playgrounds, sports fields and pedestrian areas would be built and renewed on the rundown green areas of City Park. Eighty-three per cent disagreed with the plan to relocate the Hungarian National Gallery from the Castle District to the park so that some government authorities could move into the vacated premises.
However, they did agree with the plan to create a large green area next to Podmaniczky utca as a continuation of City Park.
The government decided in 2011 to build five new museum buildings in the park: the Hungarian National Gallery, Ethnographic Museum, House of Hungarian Music, Museum of Hungarian Photography and Museum of Hungarian Architecture. Parliament cemented the plans into law despite protests by civilian organisations, environmental activists and architects.
Last September a large demonstration left from Andrássy út for Parliament, where a 20,000-signature petition was handed to President of the Parliament László Kövér. The opponents argue that any new Museum Quarter should be built following an urban development competition and mainly on peripheral and partly paved areas of the park.
Their argument is that the development would double the occupation level of the park from the current 6 percent to about 12-13 percent. The park is already overcrowded at weekends but would be further burdened with transport and the resulting noise and environmental pollution.
However, the government calculates that the green surface would grow from 60 percent to 65 percent. It says some of the buildings would be built in place of existing ones, for example the new National Gallery would replace the Petőfi Hall. Further, the project would cost about HUF 200 billion, half the originally planned amount.
The building of the new museums of Hungarian Architecture and Hungarian Photography has subsequently been taken off the agenda, but there are some new additions such as a Park-Theatre and an underground garage. The tender for planning the new National Gallery was won at the end of last year by Japanese architecture company SANAA (Sejima and Nishizawa and Associates). The gallery is scheduled to open in summer 2019.BN