The Historical Building of the National Museum
Looking back on 2017, it can be said that the National Museum managed to implement several investment projects that contributed to the development, restoration and modernization of its material and technical base. Particular attention has traditionally been given to projects implemented using programme funding resources. The key and most complex funded action was undoubtedly the general reconstruction of the National Museum's Historic Building. The reconstruction of this unique national cultural monument, which included the construction of a connecting underground corridor between the Historical and New museum buildings, has been realized using the funds of the programme ‘Support for the Care of National Cultural Treasure’, namely the sub-programme ‘Renewal and Development of the Material and Technical Base of the National Museum’. The aim of the reconstruction is to turn the Neo-Renaissance building into a modern functioning museum, meeting the technical and social requirements of the 21st century. With new local building interventions, it is possible to extend the utility value of indoor spaces for temporary and permanent exhibitions and everyday operations while preserving the maximum authenticity of the building from the time of its origin. The underground connecting corridor will allow for the creation of a unique museum-cultural complex, linked from the operational and technical point of view.
The exterior reconstruction of the monumental main tower with its gilded lantern, the renovation of the corner towers, and the restoration work on nearly all the sculptural decorations were completed within 32 months of the start of the construction work. A newly created copy of the Genius sculpture was placed at the front of the building, at the top of the centre tympanum. The reconstruction of the skylight of the main staircase and the steel structure of the roofs of the western and eastern halls was completed, and the fitting of the construction with glass panels began. The ceiling of the eastern hall was completed on the elevated ground floor. The renovation of the roof cladding and the restoration of the street and hall facades are at an advanced stage of development. In the interior, work on the technical equipment of the building and new floors continued; the interior frames of the hall windows and the panelling of the interior doors were refitted, while window sashes and doors were refurbished in external contractor workshops. Gradually, old interior paint was removed and the restoration of the ceilings and walls was carried out. There was restoration of painted walls, stucco and artificial marble. Some of the artistic elements of the interior and exterior were dismantled and taken away to undergo renovation in the restoration workshops. Replicas were made of nonextant originals, such as painted glass panels for the Pantheon dome and the coffered ceiling of the staircase hall. All restoration work on the interior and exterior was carried out exclusively by qualified restorers with the appropriate permission of the Ministry of Culture and under the constant professional supervision of representatives of heritage care.
Simultaneously with the reconstruction of the museum building, earthworks were carried out on the connecting corridor. All enforced transfers of utility networks were completed, along with the construction of new chambers and inspection shafts; deep micropile foundations and the construction of their own reinforced concrete tube corridors were also realized, including backfilling and the implementation of the rolling layer.
During the reconstruction, unpredictable circumstances arose which negatively influenced the smooth execution of the work, such as: the archaeological finding of the torso of the foundations of the New Town fortifications; the detection of cable chambers and medium pressure pipelines along the route of the future connecting corridor in positions different from those shown on the maps; the structure of the geological subsoil being different from the planner’s assumptions, etc. All the identified hidden obstacles have negatively affected the running time of the construction work and have prompted the need to update the construction schedule, which envisages the commencement of partial operations in October 2018 on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Czechoslovak Republic.
In addition to the building part of the reconstruction of the Historical Building, intensive preparations were carried out related to the design of future exhibitions. In May the architectural tender for the chief architect of the exhibitions was cancelled by the decision of the Office for the Protection of Competition. In connection with this, the National Museum has prepared an alternative procedure for the selection of architectural studies for future permanent exhibitions and invited specific architectural studios for the exhibitions on Nature, Evolution, the World of Plants, Algi and Lichens, ExperiMus, History, People, the History of the 20th Century, the Coin Cabinet and the Children's Museum. Subsequently, the architects will be asked to prepare studies for interior and for exhibition installations, which are expected to be completed in 2019, or 2020 in some cases.
In the first half of 2016 the partial reconstruction of the New National Museum Building (formerly the Federal Assembly Building) was completed and received final inspection. On the conclusion of construction work in 2017, operational systems for ensuring the organization of visitor- and exhibition-related issues were supplied and implemented. Specifically, this involved the delivery of turnstiles, an information system, furniture and flooring.
In 2017, the reconstruction of the former military barracks Pod Radobýlem in Litoměřice was completed and approved for the large-scale depository of the Czech Museum of Music. Despite the complexity of the reconstruction, there have been no technical or time complications. The construction work was followed by the separate delivery and installation of rack and warehouse technology. The building will be handed over in June 2018. The realization of this project will significantly contribute to the preservation of the unique collections of the Czech Museum of Music in a quality environment with optimal microclimate, safety and technical parameters. Added value is given by the restoration of the original chamber hall for the organization of occasional cultural and educational events.
Another important task of the past year was the completion of pre-project and project preparations, including dealing with the legislation of the building regulations approval for the construction of Jan Palach Memorial in Všetaty. Toward the end of the year a tender was held for general contractor; however, it will need to be repeated in 2018 due to the low interest of bidders in this public procurement.
Longer-term projects that fulfil the National Museum's long-term plan include the revitalization of the Náprstek Museum. Initial steps have been taken to prepare this project; in particular, a feasibility study has been completed, an investment plan has been drawn up, a request for the registration of the project was made and the programme manager has been applied to for a targeted subsidy. The Ministry of Culture registered the project in June 2017 and allowed the National Museum to prepare a public tender to obtain a project manager and technical supervision of the project. On the basis of objections lodged by bidders, the tender procedure was cancelled at the beginning of 2018 to be re-announced in April 2018.
In addition to the above-mentioned projects, the National Museum has carried out a number of minor projects. These projects were financed solely from the asset replacement fund. The National Museum has used the resources in question, for example, to modernize the audio-visual system in the congress hall of the New Building and to build facilities for waste management in the same building. Further, these funds were used to replace the concrete pinnacles on the balustrade of the Governor's Summer Palace in Stromovka with stone ones, the reconstruction of ceiling frescoes in the Antonín Dvořák Museum, the project preparation for loft conversion to create depositories of archaeological collections in the large-capacity depository Terezín II, the project documentation for the shelving of the depository of the Czech Museum of Music in Litoměřice, and so on.
Also in 2018 the National Museum plans to use the asset replacement fund, in addition to subsidies from the state budget, as an additional resource for the renewal and development of the material and technical base, including in particular partial technological innovations and the reconstruction and repair of unsatisfactory structural and technical aspects of the buildings.