Werich’s villa to re-open as public space

17-04-2008

Werich’s villa in Prague’s Kampa Park, once home of the famous Czech actor Jan Werich, will open its door to the public next year. The villa has been uninhabited and falling apart for years, but all the previous attempts to lease it fell through. The city council this week finally rent it to Meda Mládková, head of the nearby Kampa Museum, for the next 40 years. After renovations it will serve as a cultural space for screenings, debates and performances. I spoke to Mrs Mládková earlier and began by asking her a bit about the site’s history.

Meda Mládková standing in front of the Werich’s villa, photo: CTKMeda Mládková standing in front of the Werich’s villa, photo: CTK “You see, very important people lived in the villa and it became a historical site. People find it hard to accept that it will be changed into a private house or a restaurant or even a night club one day. So it was an issue of a debate here in Prague for the last couple of years.”

As far as I know the house was badly damaged by the floods in 2002. Did anyone live there at that time?

“No, everybody had to leave because it wasn’t possible to accommodate people there. So the house is totally empty and it is now slowly put back in order.”

The Town Hall offered the villa in a public tender already a few years ago.

Werich’s villa, photo: CTKWerich’s villa, photo: CTK “Yes, and I did win the tender twice but they never wanted to give it to me.”

Why did the decision take so long?

“Prague just like all the other ex-communist countries has a special character. People are jealous and corrupt. You cannot compare to other western countries.”

So why do you think you have succeeded now?

“I think that you can always succeed in the end if you have the guts, if you have the money if you have the will and are healthy. I have been fighting now for many years.”

How long do you think the reconstruction will take?

Werich’s villaWerich’s villa “If I could do it myself, it would take three or four months. But I can’t do that. It will involve different permissions, so it will probably take one year.”

So hopefully it will open for the public in one years’ time.

“I hope so. My goal is to teach young people to discuss their history. The first floor will be open to the public. I will invite for example Zbygniew Brzezinski from America and many people who still live in exile will come and give lectures.”

What about the second floor?

“The second floor will be for living. I don’t know if I will live there but it will be for the museum’ s guests.”

17-04-2008