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The Carola Association considers the preservation of memories to be of outstanding importance, which is why over the past few years it has organized several travelling exhibitions in connection with important historical events and personalities. One of the most significant of these was the In Remembrance of Those Left Behind open-air exhibition, which commemorates the loved ones of the 1849 Martyrs of Arad. It pays tribute to those women and children who over a lifetime bore the tragedy of the loss of their husbands, fiancés and fathers. A long-cherished dream of the association came true when the display was put on in Arad in October 2019. The organization achieved similar successes with the Háromszék Patriot Women exhibition, which is a tribute to those lesser-known female figures, the women patriots, of the 1848 uprising.

Zsuzsa Szebeni, director of the Sfântu Gheorghe (Sepsiszentgyörgy) branch of the Balassi Institute – Cultural Centre of Hungary, is responsible for the exhibitions: she arranges, manages and, in many cases, even compiles and collects the materials needed for the exhibitions. In an interview given to Népújság.ro in September 2019, Zsuzsa Szebeni said that in the case of exhibitions, she always attempts to research new facts and matters of interest, and then she reveals these to the general public. In addition, she tries to include humorous stories because, as she puts it, an exhibition shouldn’t be monotonous.
In the interview she stresses that in order to present full and true accounts of historical events and people she needs to spend a lot of time doing archival research, but it sometimes happens that she sets off on private quests in search of particular legacies. Archival work, extra resources, the online Arcanum database, research of documents kept privately all demand huge time and energy, but it is worthwhile. In her opinion, it is essential to feel in an exhibition that the curator is fully at home in the oeuvre presented. Alongside the research, she views the exhibiting technique to be vital since it is necessary to be able to move from one location to another relatively quickly and easily, from the Hungarian Cultural Days of Kolozsvár (Cluj-Napoca) to the Vásárhely Fair, on to Târgu Secuiesc (Kézdivásárhely), Budapest and Debrecen, then back. At the same time, every effort must be made to ensure open-air displays are safe and solidly built.
Zsuzsa Szebeni goes on to note that she tries to present the topics in a modern way because even with superb material such as the story of the Háromszék (Three Counties) patriot women, the original visual images do not help much. In fact, when looking for the patriot women she could only find photographs of broken women in their late eighties, and when the exhibition was assembled in this form they realized that the general effect was rather off-putting. This is why she approached members of the Háromszék folk dance ensemble, asking them to play the parts of the patriot women, and this is how their stories were eventually depicted.

In the interview, the chair of the board of trustees of the Carola Association added that her favourite topic so far was the life of Count Miklós Bánffy, whose material also gave rise to the story of Carola Szilvássy, which then grew into its own topic.


Photo: Csaba Lorincz