Tibor Navracsics, deputy prime minister of Hungary, is getting a mini tour of Washington’s landmarks today with a bona fide guide: Richard Kurin, the undersecretary for history, art and culture at the Smithsonian Institution.
The two were the guests of honor last night at a reception at the home of Hungarian ambassador to the U.S. Gyorgy Szapary in celebration of the Smithsonian’s 2013 Folklife Festival with its “Hungarian Heritage” theme.
“We brought our hearts into Washington,” said Navracsics, referring to the week-long festival starting today on the National Mall. “It’s a unique opportunity for us,” he said. “We have an innovative, yet ancient culture.”
He and Kurin caught up last night over lemonade champagne while Juan Molina, deputy chief of mission for the Spanish embassy, huddled with his counterpart from the Czech Republic, Jaroslav Zajicek.
Other guests, such as arts patrons Adrienne Arsht and Ina Ginsburg, wore white in honor of Hungary’s national colors. Arsht paired her dress with green and red bangles while interior designer Aniko Gaal Schott, who decorated the ambassador’s house, wore jewelry from the host country.
“It’s from the 18th century,” she said, beaming, referring to the elaborate Hungarian necklace at her throat.
Foie gras was served with pigs in the blanket and shrimp and hummus appetizer. A trio of Hungarian folk musicians gave guests a slice of what’s in store.
The events will showcase Hungary’s food, wine, music, dance and fashions. A dance barn will offer lessons while a kitchen will feature Transylvanian cuisine.
Karin revealed that while he’d never been to Budapest, he now has renewed interest. The people of Hungary “know who they are” and embrace their heritage “in a contemporary way. That’s what people all over the world should be doing.”
Organizers estimate that a million people will stop at the festival, now in its fourth decade.
The inspiration of foreign lands had guests talking about their vacation plans. Karin suggested the Smithsonian’s “around the world” tour, while Navracsics is a fan of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian for those coming to Washington with the family.
Asian art collector Ann Nitze said she’ll be in Colorado next week for the Aspen Institute’s Ideas Festival while Marie Royce, senior director of international public affairs at Alcatel-Lucent, is set to spend Bastille Day in Paris with her husband, Representative Ed Royce, a California Republican and chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
(Stephanie Green is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)
Muse highlights include Hephzibah Anderson on books, Scott Reyburn on the art market and Ryan Sutton on New York dining.