Pannonia Province Programme – Roman road, bumpy road!
The Aquincum Museum received a grant for the development of the museum as a tourist attraction in 2009. The implementation of the project (New developments at the Aquincum Museum, Pannonia Province Programme) began in 2010 following the signing of the Grant Contract. And so began the race against time and the struggle against circumstances unforeseeable and beyond our control.
Following the preparatory phase, the project broke ground on 2 April. As the site lies in the area of the Aquincum Civil Town’s southern town wall, we began with archaeological excavations (phase 1 of the work). The excavations’ results were incorporated into the working drawings (by Köztigon Architects’ Studio Ltd., head architect: László Rajk), but due to the discovered remains, the foundation work included in the building permit had to be modified and the display space of the discovered remains had to be increased. A critical point in every project is public procurement. At the beginning of the summer, we published the call for tenders for the construction work. The outcome (or more precisely the lack thereof) of the procurement process made it clear by the end of summer that the original, large-scale plan could not be executed within the framework of the grant, with the existing technical content, and the plan would have to be modified. The modification would have to cover every aspect of the project, while staying within the grant’s budget. The new plan, changed to ensure the continuation of the project, came to resemble more closely the Archaeological Park’s simpler character that blends well with the Roman remains. This meant fewer new constructions, more renovations and function changes, environmental rehabilitation and more open spaces for visitors. The project at the same time aims to make no irreversible changes to the site – given its protected, historic nature. While giving shape to the modified plan, the Museum received unexpected good fortune. The ELMŰ electricity company, which had right of usufruct to the new exhibition building’s basement, started to move out and – keeping in mind the project’s aims – seeks to hand over the site to the Museum by mid-2011. This gesture allowed us to avoid the construction of new buildings to a large extent. The original plan’s creator was given the opportunity to modify the plan, but the negotiated procedure without a call for competition was unsuccessful.
Along the archaeological excavations and preparations for the construction, work on other parts of the project too was proceeding according to schedule. Following meticulous and arduous work, the virtual games’ graphics were completed, and the production of the 3D versions is currently underway. Work is also in progress on the Roman furniture reconstructions for the ‘House of the painter’.
On top of this, the project also meant numerous administrative tasks. Although we have overcome these – and gained significant experience – we are still where we were last year. More procurement, more plans, more administrative tasks and we – it would seem – are making no headway while time is passing. Yet, since this is the final opportunity for the Museum to receive EU funding to develop tourist attractions and to create an attractive area around the new exhibition building in which to receive visitors, we will continue to work persistently and we are certain that we will find a way to make the project a success.