Václav Havel is probably the single most important figure in modern Czech history. Havel was born here in Prague and spent virtually his entire life in the capital. In this programme we will visit a number of spots in the city closely associated with the playwright, dissident and president. And for that we absolutely couldn’t have a better guide than the architect and writer Zdeněk Lukeš, who served under Havel at Prague Castle in the 1990s and in 2016 brought out the excellent guidebook Václav Havel’s Prague.
In the first half of the 20th century Czechoslovakia was at the forefront of design, from architecture to furniture production. But a new publication by Prague’s Museum of Decorative Arts (UPM) together with Academia, makes the case that good design survived in pockets even under socialism. The book, entitled Design in the Czech Lands 1900 – 2000, featuring hundreds of reproductions was co-edited by UPM’s Iva Knoblochová. She told me how plans for the ambitious book came together.
Prague’s Municipal Court on Friday is due to deal with a complaint by the director of the Czech National Gallery Jiří Fajt against head of state president Miloš Zeman. The president refused in May to sign off on Fajt becoming a professor citing his doubts about whether the gallery director had benefited from a sponsorship payment made by a major bank. Fajt says he has already amassed a series of honourary degrees and is protesting the slur on his reputation. The court rejected Fajt's complaint but he can appeal.
In the world of advanced information technology there are still remnants of an era when all human knowledge was painstakingly collected in libraries that reflected the social status of their owners. Deep in the bowels of Kinski Palace, on Prague’s Old Town Square, the Kinski family library is preserved as it served the family for generations. Its administrator for the National Museum Richard Sipek took me around one of the two remaining palace libraries in the city.
The Czech Museum of Music is set to receive a unique collection of letters written by the legendary Czech opera singer Ema Destinnová and her close friend Hilda Schueler. The collection, containing other memorabilia belonging to the great singer was donated to the Czech Republic by Ms Schueller’s grandchildren. It will be handed over to Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka at the Czech Embassy in Sweden on Thursday.
Firefighters were called out to deal with an oil spill on the Vltava River in Prague on Friday, iDnes.cz reported. The oil “stain”, which was around 50 metres in length, occurred between the Charles Bridge and Mánes Bridge in the centre of the city. It was likely caused by the escape of motor oil from a plastic bottle, a spokesperson for the fire service said. A temporary ban was imposed on boats on the river while the problem was being addressed.
A new exhibition at the Czech National Gallery’s Trade Fair Palace in Prague features works by leading US artists, including James McNeill Whistler, Andy Warhol and Jackson Pollock. Entitled Three Centuries of American Prints from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, the show runs from Wednesday until January 8. It contains 140 works that organisers say provide a perspective on US print production from its beginnings in the 18th century to the present day.
The 125th anniversary of the opening of Prague’s Petřín Lookout Tower is being marked this weekend. Among the events taking place is a guided tour of Petřín hill by the curator of an exhibition at the lookout tower exploring its history. The 65 metre structure and the cable car leading up to it were opened in 1891 in connection with the Jubilee Provincial Exhibition held in Prague in that year. The lookout tower was inspired by the Eiffel Tower.
Prague City Hall has once again opened up the question of where to house the famous Slav Epic by painter Alfons Mucha. On Thursday, mayor Adriana Krnáčová suggested that the series of 20 paintings could temporarily return to the castle of Moravský Krumlov, where they had been on display until 2011. In the meantime, the mayor wants to find a suitable permanent space to exhibit the works.
Saturday is the 50th anniversary of the commencement of construction work on one of the Czech Republic’s most distinctive modern buildings, the television transmitter and hotel on Mount Ještěd near Liberec in North Bohemia. The 94-metre structure was designed by architect Karel Hubáček from the renowned company SIAL Liberec and replaced a previous hotel that had burnt down. Completed in 1973, Ještěd was voted Building of the Century in a public poll in the year 2000.
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