This week we have a roundup of cultural stories making headlines: an exhibition dedicated to Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamen, a new musical inspired by the rock band Lucie, and the completion of the AZ Tower - the country's tallest building.
In 1922, Howard Carter’s discovery of Pharaoh Tutankhamen’s tomb received worldwide coverage, prompting a renewed interest in Ancient Egypt. Interest in Tutankhamen was also rekindled in the 1970s, when the treasures of his tomb – including his iconic burial mask – were exhibited at major museums around the world.
Now, in “Tutankhamun – His Tomb and Treasures”, visitors to Prague’s Vystavište fair grounds have a chance to experience something similar – a reconstruction of Tutankhamen’s burial site, together with carefully-wrought replicas of the famous artefacts found in the burial chambers. The show also includes audiovisual recordings and screenings. Organiser Petr Mühlfeld:
“In the first part of the exhibition, the first thing that visitors can see is a replica of the tomb: what it looked like in individual chambers at the burial site.”
Featured are more than 1,000 objects; experts such as the National Museum’s Pavel Onderka have praised their quality, saying that even though the items on view are replicas, they are top notch. Great attention was paid to precision and detail. Pavel Onderka:
“The copies are very well-made in terms of craft and even art. They managed to make the pieces appear highly authentic. The benefit of an exhibition like this, is that it can show something visitors otherwise would never be able to see.”
Ancient Egypt of course captured the imagination for millennia. In Bohemia in the 17th century, Emperor Rudolf II himself had several Egyptian artefacts in the royal collection. After Howard Carter caused a sensation in 1922, finding King Tut’s tomb, even Czechoslovakia’s first president T.G. Masaryk was among those to visit. The National Museum’s Pavel Onderka again:
“Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk and Edvard Beneš both undertook official visits to Egypt. Both men were accompanied by photographers and for that reason we have a photo, for example, of Masaryk exiting Tutankhamen’s tomb.”
The reconstructed version of King Tut’s tomb has been shown in the Czech Republic before: the first time several years ago in the country’s second-largest city of Brno. Organisers hope, however, that this time, the exhibition – which has since seen added audiovisual aids – will attract an even larger segment of the public. Organiser Petr Mühlfeld again:
“In all honesty we hope that the show will attract even more visitors. We’ll see how things go. Then, the show was in its beginnings, moving to Brno after first premiering in Zurich, Switzerland. Now we have added new elements including an audio guide.”
Tutankhamun – His Tomb and Treasures” continues in Prague until June 30.
In other cultural news, the fifth studio album by Czech rock band Lucie – who have been on hiatus for at least six or seven years – has been transformed into material for a new musical featuring the talents of actors Lukáš Vaculík, Václav Noid Bárta and Jiří Korn. Lyricist Tomáš Belko was given the task of writing a story corresponding to the album’s themes. One of the main motifs is personal freedoms and limits. Tomáš Belko:
“The main motif is how to get out of one’s own head or – more precisely – to realise that you have the most freedom in your own mind but also the most limits. You are your own worst enemy, so to speak.”
The band itself will not take part in the show but members have been involved in the production from the beginning and have a say in everything from costumes to advertising. Meanwhile, here’s how guitarist Robert Kodym describes elements of the show which, if it were a class taught at in university, would no doubt be called Rock Star 101. Here are the details:
“Love and romance but also temperament and sex, as well substances that ease one’s mood... One thing that I think we have in common with Tomáš Belko is that our lyrics have depth. You can’t write them down as answers in a survey.”
The show is expected to premiere in the autumn.
This week developers announced that construction work at the AZ Tower was complete, with workers putting finishing touches now only to the interiors. At 111 metres the tower in Brno becomes the tallest in the Czech Republic, only just edging the Prague City Tower at Pankrác plain. The City Tower is reportedly two metres shy of the title it held since construction began in the early 1980s. Paradoxically, Prague’s tower went unused, fell into disrepair, and had to be heavily renovated before opening in 2008.
The AZ Tower in Brno, meanwhile, was designed by the architectural team of Gustav Křivinka and Aleš Burian, featuring a canted or sloping edge that gives the building a futuristic appearance. The tower is slated to house offices, apartments, restaurants and shops, including an auto salon and a fitness club. The new building was designed also to make use of Green technology in order to leave a smaller ecological footprint.
Of course, at 111 metres on a world stage the “AZ” is easily “overlooked”. It is one-third the height of the Shard in London, for example, and a mere gnat compared to the Skycity under construction in China, expected to take the title for the world’s tallest building later this year (it will edge the current title holder the Burj Khalifa in Dubai). Incidentally, you may recall that a Czech industrial company, Pega Hoist, helped build the Burj. In a past interview we spoke to the company’s head Pavel Policar, who described the experience as “incredible”.
“It’s like taking airborne pictures. The VIP zone for helicopters was around 400 metres and imagine that we worked for two months at 700 metres above the ground. So they were below us, the VIPS and the flying zone. Our workplace was almost double that height.”
While the AZ is no Burj, certainly offers excellent views of Brno – becoming a dominant focal point as well as destination for both locals and visitors.
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