Cleaning than restoration in today’s sense can be spoken of until the early 1950s and cleaning was not performed by protection of substance experts, either but by museologists. This fact and the inconvenient storing conditions resulted in the devastation of part of the collection, mostly of that of the valuable ethnographic material.
A significant step forward was taken in 1952 when caretaker György Asztalos trained himself to become a restorer. The next turn came in 1962 when the museums of the county were handed over to be maintained by Békés County Council. Actually, the network of the county’s museums had been established by that time. By a decree of legal force of 1963, the Munkácsy Mihály Museum was awarded the rank of county museum and its condition was significantly improved as compared to previous ones. The dynamic development of the Museum Organization, initiated in 1967, resulted in a relatively rapid expansion of personnel, which was mostly concentrated in the Békéscsaba museum. Considering the fact that our restorers also had to perform county tasks, it cannot be said that the formation of the scientific personnel was accompanied by an adequate increase of the technical personnel. The issue of expanding the museum was raised as early as in the 1950s and it seemed a pressing necessity in the 1960s. The situation in the 1970s is well characterized by a report of a People’s Control Committee: “the ground-space of the restorer’s workshop is so small that the work conditions for two restorers are not provided for. In my expert’s opinion, the condition of the restorer’s workshop is the worst in the country.”
The issue of enlarging the museum came out of a deadlock when Békés County Council passed a resolution of the establishment of a new national museum which was going to be organically integral with Munkácsy Mihály Museum. The new wing, where the restorer’s workshop consisting of two rooms was also placed, was inaugurated on August 12th, 1978. At the time, the technical assistance staff was also increased, so, by the end of 1975, three restorers worked for the Department of Archaeology and Protection of Substance. Those working in restoration became an independent group from the late 1980s on to become an independent department in 1997.
The year of 1998 was a milestone with improving storing conditions and enlarging the ground-space of the restorer’s workshop since it was then that the stack-room base in Fábry street was inaugurated. In the meantime, the number of the restorers was increased to four. The new establishment made it possible that wood restoration which required a great deal of space be accomplished in better conditions.
The task of the Department of Restoration is:
The restoration of the stock of works of art of Békés county museum organization, of the new excavation materials, the periodical exhibitions and the relics of the research work. The department must also perform ad hoc assignments of restoration and must restore damages caused during exhibitions. The department must also control the state of the stock pieces, must supervise and keep the objects exhibited at the standing exhibitions in good repair. Moreover, the department has the task of assistance for the museums maintained by municipality governments in the fields of general restoration and protection of relics.