This exquisite collection has been put together with much love and care by Károly and Beáta Istvánkó. A variety of "leftover things" from those times has been assembled and brought back to life again. At first it started out as a hobby but it eventually led to creating this museum. As Beáta Istvánkó told me: "The 1970s was an exceptional time for many people and this museum is sure to bring back plenty of fond memories".

A step back in time awaits as you make your way into the house: old-style furniture, bulky and heavy-rimmed television sets, out-dated kitchen utensils and radio sets, some still functioning today. The décor was exclusive then but it is very much out of place in 2019.

The toys and teddy bears have seen better days but they are intriguing nonetheless for the little ones. Vincent, my little boy, took an instant liking to them. An impressive collection of vinyl records is on display, alongside beer bottles and cans, books, faded holiday postcards, clocks and a lot more. This is colourful and peacetime nostalgia, representing modesty rather than imperialism. While the feeling of a bygone regime looms throughout the house, there are no hidden political messages.

In the courtyard is a wonderful array of "classic" cars, clearly meant for the working masses: Polskis, Yugos, Zastavas, Skodas and more. A Trabant is stationed next to a petrol pump from the time. Many people wanted better vehicles from the West, and while these relics were eventually disowned, at the time they had to be enough as the average working families made their ways to Lake Balaton, the Adriatic Sea or for shopping trips to Austria, when the authorities allowed.

Alongside a symbolic Hungarian-manufactured Ikarus bus there is an original Volkswagen camper van decorated with flowers and hippy logos. Most unexpectedly there is an ostentatious pink Cadillac. Visitors are allowed to hop in some of the cars to get a taste of their vintage appeal. Selfies while in the drivers' seats are a must, and good shots can also be had with the sparkly, mirrored disco ball.

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This whole venture is fascinating. Although I come from another culture, certain aesthetic similarities can be seen. Life in England in the 1970s was also filled with vibrant paisley shirts and flairs, progressive rock and disco. And like many junior schoolboys from then, there were crushes on Blondie and Wonder Woman. As for the grown-ups, I recall Fawlty Towers, James Bond and Cold War issues prevailed, and this was clearly a time before the rise of computers and mass consumer culture.

The softness of the dictatorship that loomed over Hungary in the1970s and 1980s was mostly recognisable by the looser restrictions when it came to popular music. Locals went to discos and had home parties, but most things that were taken for granted in the West were not immediately available for those behind the Iron Curtain. Most of the vinyl in the museum, for example, had come from elsewhere.

Hungarians were permitted to travel to Western countries every three years (or once a year if they were part of an organised group) and during these trips it was customary to pick up any desirable Western goods and smuggle the lot across the border on the way back home.

After the 1970s a period of wilderness followed, new trends and circumstances came in, and eventually the Berlin Wall fell. But those times continue to aspire today, as they had romance, immaterialism and and easygoingness that has never been the same again.

From a progressional perspective, everything from the museum's collection has been replaced by equipment of modern times, some for better, some for worse. Communications then were slow and ponderous, something which is no longer an issue today. But after walking through the museum one can't help but feel that today's pop culture lacks the artistic creativity of this period, thus it is little surprise that retro is all the rage these days.

If you're not a fan of life in the slow lane, then this exhibition is not for you. But if you feel weary of modern-day times and in need of a change of scenery, then you should definitely head to Szentendre for a bit of time travel.

Further information: https://sites.google.com/view/retrodesigncenter


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