Collecting Activities for the National Museum
Activities of the Central Advisory Board for the Collecting Activities of the National Museum, acquisitions
In 2018 the Central Advisory Board for the collecting activities of the National Museum (CABCA NM) discussed 81 proposals for the purchase of collection items or sets of items, amounting to a total of ca CZK 25 million. This included a proposal for one acquisition costing CZK 950,000 which was rejected by the Advisory Board. Proposals were submitted by all collection departments of the National Museum, with the greatest number of proposals coming from the Historical and Natural History Museums.
The purchase of the other 80 proposed acquisitions was approved (2 conditionally) with respect to the limited resources of the National Museum, and in all cases the purchase was realized (with the exception of the 2 conditionally approved acquisitions, which were postponed to 2019, and 1 acquisition of the Náprstek Museum for which an application for an ISO C grant in 2019 was filed). The distribution of funds is shown in the table:
* Part of the total cost of the items was paid with contributions from NM funds. For all 11 purchased items, the contributions amounted to CZK 395,112.18. The grant application for the acquisitions of the Náprstek Museum that were approved in 2018, totalling CZK 2,622,200, was not filed until 2019.
** Part of the total cost of the items was paid with contributions from NM funds. For all 13 purchased items, the contributions amounted to CZK 395,112.18.
For the Historical Museum, a set of three miniature portraits, a painted Nativity scene from Ústí nad Orlicí and a reverse glass painting - Calvary with Crucifixion and Saint Mary Magdalene; and for the Czech Museum of Music, Bedřich Smetana's letter to pianist Alexander Dreyschock, photographs of Antonín Dvořák from the J. Tomáš studio in Prague, and Antonín Dvořák's letter to the publisher Alfred Littelton, were all purchased under the Ministry of Culture grant programme ISO/C. For the National Museum Library, a collection of 2,762 small religious prints from the 18th and 19th centuries was purchased from the estate of the Semily collector Rudolf Hlava; and two collections were purchased for the Natural History Museum, namely a comprehensive collection of scarab beetles and an ornithological collection. In total, under the ISO C subsidy program, the National Museum received CZK 2,940,000 for 11 acquisitions out of the 12 originally approved. The contribution of the National Museum amounted to CZK 395,112.18.
Most of the acquisitions in 2018 were funded from the subsidy budget for creation of new permanent exhibitions. These funds were drawn on by the Natural History and Historical Museums. Two acquisitions were not purchased from the budget for the budget for the creation of new permanent exhibitions in 2018, but were conditionally purchased in 2019.
From the donation of the Josef, Marie and Zdeňka Hlávková Foundation, two paintings - “A Joint Journey to Space” by Jaromír and an untitled landscape painting by Vladimír Šolta - and a fully functional Monopol platen letterpress machine from the first half of the 20th century were purchased. Acquisitions financed from projects and other sources were realized only by the Natural History Museum, being entomological, mineralogical and paleontological collections.
Equipment and restorations paid for from the ISO/D subsidy
In the 2018 calendar year, the purchase of some packaging material for the Natural History Museum was funded from the ISO/D programme of the Ministry of Culture, namely entomological boxes. In addition, boxes made of acid-free materials were purchased for the Czech Museum of Music, along with packing material for items in the National Museum Library’s sub-collection 25 (Other: items documenting the development of literary culture) and archiving boxes for Nativity figures for the Historical Building of the National Museum. Further, for the Historical Building, a ductless hood type H 300 and a filter with activated carbon for organic vapours, type ORG 300, were purchased.
The ISO/D subsidies were also used to restore some collection items of the National Museum. This included the second stage of the restoration of the historical theatre costumes of the Historical Museum from Kačina chateau, and at the same time the second group from the set of historical portraits of Hapsburg monarchs from the Historical Museum’s collections was renovated.
In 2018, the collection of the National Museum was being inventoried in two concurrent cycles: the original cycle I, which began in 2003; and cycle II, which began in 2015, in which small-scale sub-collections, whose inventory was already finished in cycle I, were inventoried. In 2018, 184,515 items were inventoried in the first inventory cycle (5.30% of the National Museum’s collection) and 11,370 items in the second inventory cycle (0.33% of the National Museum’s collection). In total, 195,885 collection items were inventoried in both inventory cycles, i.e. 5.63% of the whole collection of the National Museum.
General revisions prescribed by the internal regulations of the National Museum continued in 2018.
The general revision in the Historical Building of the National Museum, namely in the Department of Old Czech History, continued with the furniture and textile fonds. Two general revisions were conducted in Nelahozeves and in the Memorial to František Palacký.
Directorate-General order No. 7/2017 prescribed an in-depth inspection in the Natural History Museum of the National Museum at the Mineralogy Department, in the sub-collection “mineralogy”, which continued in 2018. During the year, four random inspections took place, and they will continue in the following year.
Based on the order of Deputy Director General for Central Collection-building and Exhibition Activities, an in-depth inspection of accompanying documentation took place for the Historical Museum’s sub-collections: 25 Other - Collection of Classical Archaeology of HM; 10 - Historical; 25 Other - Theatre Collection; and 25 Other - Modern Czech History Collection. The inspection showed good management in half of the department. In view of the identified shortcomings, corrective action has been requested, which will be checked by random inspections.
Syria – project of humanitarian aid and restoration of antiquities
In 2018, material help was sent, containing tools and materials for the restoration and physical preservation of cultural heritage. The National Museum put a panel exhibition on show, which documented the deterioration of the physical state of historical monuments damaged by conflict in the country. The exhibition was attended by representatives of the Director Generals of both the museums and the monuments in Syria. In February and March 2018, restoration materials, tools, electronics and chemicals that the Syrian side asked for were purchased. The material was bought from several dozen manufacturers and suppliers of the required goods in the Czech Republic and abroad to a total amount of CZK 1,942,340.14 (the total billing in the accounting journal includes a small purchase connected with last year's stage of the programme, bringing the total to CZK 1,943,048). Everything was temporarily stored on the rented premises of the removal company Stahl – stěhovací služba, s.r.o. - as the National Museum does not have suitable premises for the storage of chemicals at its disposal. All preparations for transport to Syria were also done on these premises. Concurrently, based on communication with the Syrian side, items of Syrian cultural heritage were selected that would be transported to the National Museum for restoration and preservation. The original date arranged for the transportation was 16. 4. 2018 by military air transport; after the military transport had handed over the material aid, it was supposed to bring back to the Czech Republic those objects of Syrian cultural heritage that were to be restored in the National Museum. However, the special military transport was cancelled due to the bad security situation in the country. The substitute date for the special military transport was not settled in the end, and so the transport to Syria will be provided by the company Stahl, the same as last year. According to the results of inquiries placed with transportation companies in the Czech Republic, the majority of them are not able to provide transport to Syria, whether due to their internal rules or for external reasons (they do not have their own or a cooperating agent in Syria, etc.).
The individual ordered items were packaged carefully into larger parcels and numbered and described. All substances that were classified by manufacturers as hazardous chemicals and that are subject to specific rules for transportation were sorted by their hazardous material category (flammable liquids, category 2 and 3), properly labelled and prepared for loading. 18 boxes (pallets) were prepared in total, and the National Museum’s panel exhibition “Czech Castles and Chateaux” was added for transportation to be exhibited at the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums of the Syrian Arab Republic. The exhibition was packed in 4 boxes (pallets). The complete list of goods sent is given in the appendix to this report.
Simultaneously with the preparations for transport, there were administrative preparations consisting of ensuring the legality of the import in terms of international sanctions on the import of chemicals into the war zone, providing the documentation for customs clearance, the provision of all available information on chemicals for shippers, etc.
The actual transportation began on 17. 12. 2018, when all the goods were loaded in a container, including the panel exhibition, and taken by rail to Hamburg, from where they were shipped by sea to the port city of Lattakia, where the goods and the exhibition were taken over (in 2019) by the Syrian side.