THE PORCELAIN MUSEUM AND MANUFACTORY IN HEREND, HUNGARY (Muzeum i Manufaktura Porcelany w Herend na Wegrzech)
Porcelain was invented in China during seventh century. When in the eleventh century it made its way to Europe, it became the object of enormous admiration and desire. From almost six centuries Europeans strove to discover the secret of its production. First European porcelain was not made until the beginning of the eighteenth century (in Saxony). In 1826 Vince Stingel established a manufactory in the small Hungarian town of Herend. During the early years of that century it produced stoneware, but from the very onset its owner studied the making of porcelain, although to no avail. The costs of his research left Stingel bankrupt. His successful successor, Mor Fischer, produced the first porcelain vessels, decorated with simple linear and floral motifs, which proved greatly popular and won numerous awards, including international ones, thus initiating the great career of the Herend manufactory. For more than 180 years the factory enjoyed great successes, but also instances of bankruptcy. Its owners amassed, originally for commercial purposes, a collection of the most magnificent products, which became the core of a museum, opened to the public on the very threshold of the first world war. The Herend Porcelain Manufactory Ltd was established in 1992. At the end of the 1990s the whole Manufactory complex was thoroughly redesigned and expanded in order to prepare an infrastructure associated with tourism. Going on the assumption that a considerable part of the visitors are potential buyers, the exhibits were arranged in such a way as to stir the imagination and display the captivating process of producing the luxury objects. The titular complex in Herend is composed of a Late Classicistic building housing the museum and, on the other side of the street, a Complex of the Buildings of the Minimanufactory. Designed by Gabor Turanyi, the simple Cubistic red brick solids, decorated with burnt clay, and with roofs whose construction and shape refer to kilns, constitute characteristic elements of the landscape, seen from afar. The space between the buildings, arranged in a horseshoe pattern, is laid with light coloured flagstones, creating a patio used for open-air events and concerts. The visitors' encounter with porcelain begins at the Minimanufactory; the guided tour, available only for groups, lasts for an hour. Each year the Museum boasts a total of 100 000 visitors.
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