Part of a large art collection that once belonged to the Nazi leader Adolf Hitler is dispersed in several Czech museums – often without their curators being aware of it. That’s what researcher Jiří Kuchař discovered after three years of investigation. Following last week’s TV report on the case, a gallery in south Bohemia even removed three statues from public display, citing security reasons.
Nearly 180,000 people took advantage of what is called a “museum night” in Prague on Saturday, when 28 institutions in the Czech capital opened their doors from 7 p.m. until 1 a.m. Admission was either free or for a token price. The “museum night” tradition was begun by the National Museum in 2004. Prague is far from the only place to have take part: over five evenings 168 institutions were opened to the public in 113 cities and towns.
An interactive exhibition which is to open at the Jewish Museum in Prague on Thursday promises visitors a chance to revive a centuries’ old legend. A sculpture by the famous Czech artist Petr Nikl invites people to try to figure out the right symbol or word which would breathe life into the famous Prague Golem – a legendary giant allegedly created by the 16th century rabbi Loew.
The U.S. broadcaster Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty on Monday formally handed over the keys of its former headquarters at the top end of Wenceslas Square to the building’s new tenant, the National Museum. The museum, located just across the street and in desperate need of new premises, has big plans for the imposing glass and chrome building. It will house over 3,000 square meters of exhibition rooms, a museum restaurant and shop, and a conference and multimedia room for an audience of nearly 500. The museum is planning to throw its doors open to the public on the 20th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution in November. Radio Free Europe has moved to new headquarters on the suburbs of the city for security reasons.
A small piece of history was made on Monday morning as the U.S. broadcaster Radio Free Europe formally handed over the keys to their former headquarters to a new tenant: the National Museum. The iconic steel and glass building a few metres from the top of Wenceslas Square has gone through several incarnations over the decades, but the latest will see its doors finally thrown open to the public.
Saturday’s ‘Museum Night’ in the Czech Republic’s second city, Brno, was a record success, according to organizers. Some 16 institutions took part in the event, opening up more than 30 buildings on Saturday night and into Sunday morning. Staff registered more than 151,000 visitors, a figure up by more than 23,000 on last year. The most visited institutions were the Moravian Gallery and Brno Municipal Museum, according to Lenka Němcová, a spokesperson for the event. Several special events were put on as part of the evening, Špílberk Castle in the centre of the city played host to a firework display and special performances. The Museum of Romany Culture also put on a special concert of Romany music. Museum Night was held in the run up to International Museum Day, which falls on May 18.
US President Barack Obama told thousands of cheering fans on Sunday that he was proud to be the man who had brought Michelle Obama to Prague. While her husband spent the day in talks with EU leaders, Mrs Obama went on a tour of one of the city’s most famous historic monuments – the old Jewish ghetto. Her guide was Michaela Sidenberg, of the Jewish Museum in Prague, who says the First Lady had a special petition to make.
Contemporary Czech art made international headlines after the Czech presidency of the European Union unveiled the famous Entropa artefact by David Černý in Brussels in January. But contemporary art is doing well in the Czech Republic, too: two years ago, Meet Factory opened in Prague with studios for young artists; last year, the privately-owned DOX gallery opened in the capital. And another such venue of contemporary Czech art is the Vernon Fine Art gallery in Holešovice.
Under communism, hundreds of people died trying to escape across Czechoslovakia’s borders into the West. However, the traffic was not all one way, as in the years following the Communist takeover of 1948, Western states sent Czechoslovak agents into the country to work secretly with the small anti-communist resistance. They are the subject of a new exhibition in Prague.
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“Einstein in Bohemia” – Part II: how alienation in ‘half-barbaric’ Prague led him to a new theory of gravity, eventual love of a free Czechoslovakia
“Einstein in Bohemia” – part 1: how a Prague sojourn sparked his theory of general relativity, journey of self-discovery