The creation of new exhibitions in the Historical Building
New exhibitions in the Historical and New buildings of the National Museum
The creation and realization of new exhibitions in the Historical and New buildings of the National Museum follows the general reconstruction of the Historical Building with the underground connection to the New Building, implementing the National Museum Development Concept 2009-2018. The financing was approved by the government of the Czech Republic on 19 July 2012 (Resolution of the Government of the Czech Republic No. 549, on updating the documentation of the Cultural Heritage Care Programme). The project's investment plan, "New exhibitions in the Historical and New Buildings of the National Museum,” was registered with the Ministry of Finance on 21 February 2014 (identification number SMVS 134V122000007).
In 2017, the decision on the cancellation of the original architectural tender was issued by the Office for the Protection of Competition, for legislative reasons – specifically due to the discrepancy between the tender conditions, in particular the Tender rules of the Czech Chamber of Architects and the Public Procurement Act. This decision came into force on 31 May 2017.
After the cancellation of the tender, the National Museum embarked on the gradual realization of permanent exhibitions and the gradual opening of its sections, with a plan to open the natural-history exhibitions in 2019 and the social sciences exhibitions in 2020. This original plan was partially modified concerning the exhibitions placed in the New Building of the National Museum, which will also be opened in 2019.
The current distribution of individual exhibitions and their locations are as follows:
- Pantheon of the National Museum (HB)
- Nature (HB)
- Great stories of evolution (HB)
- Plants, fungi and lichen (HB)
- History up to 1917 (HB)
- People: Man, society and the culture of the past (HB)
- National Museum Treasury and the Coin Cabinet (HB)
- 20th century history (NB)
- Children’s museum (NB)
- Connecting corridor (HB-NB)
Towards the end of summer 2017, three architectural studios that had participated in the original tender were commissioned to design the sections ‘Nature’, ‘Great Stories of Evolution’ and ‘Plants, fungi and lichen’. From the submitted proposals, the studies by Ing. Arch. Daniel Kříž, Ing. Arch. Jan Albrecht and Renata Slámková were selected as closest to the ideas of the authors of the exhibition concepts. From mid-August 2017, the proposals were consulted with the creators of the exhibition concept. The resulting final architectural study was planned for late February 2018.
Other exhibitions are being dealt with in a similar way. From the trio of architects that were approached, the following were selected to prepare particular sections of the permanent exhibitions.
- Ing. Arch. Lukáš Brom – History up to 1914
- Ing. Arch. Petr Janda – People: Man, society and the culture of the past
- Ing. Arch. Ondřej Busta – National Museum Treasure and the Cabinet of Minting
- Akad. Arch. Daniel Dvořák – 20th century history
Work on the architectural designs of the above mentioned areas has begun; the final proposals are expected in summer 2018. Of the remaining architects, Ing. Arch. Martin Hejl was approached to design the section in the connecting corridor, where technical consultation is currently investigating the limits for multi-media exhibitions. The installation in the connecting corridor will represent historical events associated with Wenceslas Square. To a certain extent, the Children’s Museum is a separate section of the permanent exhibitions. A team composed of members of the company SCIENTICA and the Forman Brothers Theatre was selected to deal with its concept, because, being a space with a specific function, the exhibition’s concept will have more of an interactive, theatrical and scenographic approach.
Toward the end of 2017, tender documentation was prepared to select an independent design engineer who would convert architectural designs into technical documentation for the implementer of the individual parts of permanent exhibitions. At the turn of the year, documentation was completed for the tender for the graphic designer for the permanent exhibitions. Both of these large procurements were put to tender at the beginning of 2018.
For the new exhibitions, some significant acquisitions were made in 2017 related to the fields of the natural sciences and history, to a total value of approximately CZK 7 million. These included mineral crystals, historical jewellery, scientific models of marine and terrestrial life, and so on.
Together with the permanent exhibitions, the partial re-opening of the Historical Museum was prepared in 2017 for 28 October 2018, the anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia. The ground floor of the Historical building will be reopened, with space designated for temporary exhibitions. However, its opening will need to be coordinated with the overall operation of the building and the movement of visitors; collection items will need to be secured; coordination with the remaining parts of the building, where construction is still taking place, will have to be ensured; and so on. The architectonic aspect of visitor traffic, the entrance to the building, the passage between the Historical and the New buildings and movement in the paid and free zones are being dealt with by Arch. Josef Smutný, with whom consultations will be held concerning the equipping of the space and the directing of visitors along the required routes.
Regarding personnel, the preparatory team underwent significant changes. Originally a two-member unit, the department of the manager of exhibitions had nine employees at the end of 2017, one of whom was a part-time employee. There was also a change in the position of department head, which has been held by Mgr. Petr Brůha since October 2017, replacing the previous head, Mgr. Dagmar Fialová, who had worked in the office for many years. In the transitional period, after the original head had left her position (1 May to 1 October 2018), the department was headed directly by the Deputy Director for Collecting and Exhibiting activities.
Jan Palach Memorial
In the house where he spent his childhood, in the Central-Bohemian town of Všetaty, a memorial is being created to Jan Palach that will commemorate his life and self-sacrifice and the wider historical context of his action. After the release of funds by the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic in 2014, the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic assigned the National Museum the task of building a Memorial to Jan Palach in Všetaty. For this purpose, the Minister of Culture, Daniel Herman, appointed an advisory committee, which in 2014 elaborated a concept for the building of the new Memorial. Based on this concept, an artistically valuable building with a museum exhibition will be created by 2019 in Všetaty, commemorating Jan Palach's protest on 16 January 1969 in its domestic and international context.
The architectural and artistic tender for the Jan Palach Memorial in Všetaty was awarded to the authors of the winning proposal, MCA atelier s.r.o., which is represented by doc. Ing. Arch. Miroslav Cikán and Ing. arch. Pavla Melková, Ph.D., with whom a contract has been signed. In 2017, the architectural studio submitted project documentation for the building of the Memorial, i.e. the reconstruction, “cleaning” and modification of the original birth house of Jan Palach and the building of an exhibition pavilion.
The creative team specified the concept of the emerging permanent exhibition and expanded the number of collection items with newly acquired artefacts closely connected to Jan Palach's life. Work on the preparation of a publication about the creation of the Memorial, its architectural concept and its symbolism has begun. The book will include artistic photographs capturing the transformation of the building. The structure and content of two short film documentaries that will be played in the exhibition have been specified. The opening of the Memorial is planned for August 2019.