Lost, stolen, sold, discovered in an antique shop, confiscated, ruined by a flood and finally restored and returned to its owner - that's the turbulent story of a 17th-century painting of a wealthy Prague burgher that was once in possession of Prague's Municipal Museum. The museum is now showing the cameo portrait whose story is just as interesting as the story of the man it depicts.
Political prisoners had been forced to work the mines of Czechoslovakia long before the Communists seized power in the "bloodless" coup of February 1948. Under the direction of the hard-line Stalinist leader Klement Gottwald, however, securing workers to unearth weapons-grade uranium became policy; a top priority. The camps served two purposes: a way to purge the land of "class enemies" and to build up the atomic arsenal of the Soviet Union, when few could have guessed the ideological war with the West would remain a "cold" one.
Zlate casy medii (The Golden Age of Media) is the name of an exhibition which has just opened at the National Museum here in Prague. The museum's biggest exhibition of the year, it takes a look back at the history of mass media in this country and features several colourful interactive sections. Among its curators is academic and media analyst Jan Jirak; I asked him what the organisers were hoping to achieve.
One of the most beautiful towns in Moravia and historically an important location in the Czech Republic is Znojmo - a town whose foundations date back to the 11th century. For centuries Znojmo guarded the regions of southern Moravia, part of an elaborate chain of defending castles along the Dyje River and the border with Austrian lands, developing from a promontory fort to medieval stronghold and local seat of administration for the Premyslids - the first line of Czech kings. By the mid 1200s Znojmo was dominant, complementing neighbouring castles
As we reported on Tuesday, restoration work is still going on in order to repair the damage caused by the massive floods in the summer of 2002 in various archives around Prague. Because the memory is so fresh and conservation experts in the Czech Republic have gathered a lot of experience over the past three years, the Prague City Council has offered to send a team of Czech experts to New Orleans to help the city restore its historic heritage damaged by Hurricane Katrina.
It's been more than three years since massive floods wreaked havoc in Prague. Although all the visible marks have been cleaned up and repaired in the city, the restoration work is far from finished: there are still tonnes and tonnes of paper documents from flooded archives waiting in refrigeration plants. In Czech Science today we visit one of the drying and rescue centres.
In Czechs Today I am delighted to introduce Charlotta Kotik, the Curator of Contemporary Art at the world-renowned Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York City. Energetic and quick on her feet, she encouraged me to stay for a meeting she had with an artist to discuss a future project. A painter showed sketches of iconic figures, such as Vincent Van Gogh, interpreted by an autistic student he works with. Their conversation was just the beginning of creating a future exhibit.
Quite often it happens that people ask me if I have Czech roots. It seems quite logical. I speak Czech, I've spent nearly half my life here, my children consider themselves Czech and I seem to be settled here for good. But I have no family links with the Czech Republic - or at least that is what I thought until recently.
Prague's Orloj, or Astronomical Clock, is one of the city's major tourist attractions. But for the next two months some visitors may be disappointed to find the clock is out of action: it's about to undergo its first repairs for over a decade. Ludvik Hainz is a well-known Prague clockmaker - indeed, his family have been taking care of the Astronomical Clock since the 1860s. I asked him why the work was being done now, not during the winter when there are fewer tourists.
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