Babies to vanish from Prague TV Tower

The sculptures by David Černý are in need of repair

The Žižkov TV Tower will be free of babies for the first time since 2001. The fiberglass sculptures by Czech provocateur artist David Černý have been out in the elements for more than a decade and a half, and need to be inspected and renovated for safety. All 10 babies will be returned to the tower after they have been reconditioned. The official name of the artwork is simply Babies (Miminka).

According to Michal Zelenka, the current administrator of the tower, the baby sculptures have helped to improve the public perception of the tower. Since the babies were installed, the tower has gotten a more positive public image and tourists now often come to photograph the tower and the babies.

“In 2001, the babies were installed here by the artist David Černý. I think that the tower has changed quite a bit in the perception of the citizens,” Zelenka told radio station Radiožurnál.

The installation was supposed to be temporary, but due to its popularity became permanent.

The Žižkov TV Tower is the tallest structure in Prague, at 216 meters tall. It was built between 1985 and 1992, and the public notion at the time it was finished was that it was an unwanted reminder of communism, which ended in 1989. People thought that the main original purpose of the tower was to jam Western radio signals and spy on the local population, and not to provide better TV and radio signals.

People were also critical that a Jewish cemetery was largely destroyed to make way for the tower, typical of the communist-era lack of respect for history. The futuristic design was said to clash with the typical Prague architecture.

Due to the tower looks like a rocket, it was called “Baikonur.” Another nickname was “Jakeš's finger” after the Czechoslovak Communist Party Secretary General Miloš Jakeš.

In 2009, the Australian website Virtualtourist.com named the tower the second ugliest building in the world.

The tower now, in addition to a restaurant and viewing pavilion, has a one-suite luxury hotel that offers a unique view of the city through very large windows. In winter the tower offers ice skating next to the base.

There are other copies of the baby sculptures in Prague. There are three bronze examples outside Museum Kampa, not far from the Charles Bridge. Those are also popular for tourists to photograph.

Artist David Černý shot to fame in 1991 by painting a Soviet tank pink. The tank is still displayed on occasion. Several other of his works are also visible in public, such as the rotating head of Kafka at the Quadrio shopping center, a statue of St Wenceslas riding a dead horse in Lucerna Passage, a statue of Sigmund Freud hanging by one hand in Old Town, an East German car with legs outside the German Embassy, and peeing statues outside the Kafka museum, among other works.

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