National Museum on schedule

An inspection shows the museum should party open for the centenary

The renovation of the historical building of the National Museum is on schedule and the public should be allowed back inside the first time on Oct. 28, 2018, the 100th anniversary of the founding of the first Czechoslovak Republic, museum director Michal Lukeš said after an inspection.

The museum has invested over Kč 600 million of planned Kč 2.34 billion for the renovation.

Next year people will be able to access the lower part of the museum with a temporary exhibition to mark the 100th anniversary. Repairs will continue until mid-2019. After the museum is completed, the temporary exhibit will close and permanent exhibits will open.

Rough construction work is now done and monument conservation activities are completed, Lukeš said, according to daily Pražský deník.

Originally, the whole museum was to be finished sooner, but there were numerous delays in getting started due to a problem with the first contract tender. There was also a fire on the roof in February 2016, but no exhibits were damaged as they were already moved out save for some very large ones such as a stuffed elephant.

The museum closed in July 2011 for what was supposed to be five years of renovation work. But the actual work did not start until 2015.

The museum has already started to prepare new exhibition areas. They will continue to be divided into history and natural sciences. A special museum for children, including pre-schoolers, is planned. “At the moment, we are choosing architects for the science section, and in the coming months we will choose architects for the historical part,” Lukeš said.

National Heritage Institute (NPÚ) director Naděžda Goryczková took part in the recent inspection of the historical building. She said that in terms of monument care, the museum renovation was the most complicated modern project due to the need to preserve the building and also to install needed new technologies.

In the interior, visitors will see new gilding inside the Pantheon dome. The walls will brighter due to a cleaning of over a century of dirt, and the facade will also be back to its original light tone. It had turned black due to pollution.

The historical building is just one site operated by the National Museum, and visitors have been asked to go to the others, such as the so-called new building across the street, which was the former Czechoslovak parliament and former home of Radio Free Europe.

This isn't the only renovation currently. The State Opera is being repaired, as much of its infrastructure was badly neglected. Other cultural investments include repairs to the Klementinum and the Museum of Decorative Arts, which recently reopened. The Astronomical Clock Tower at Old Town Square is also being renovated to stabilize the structure, fix the decorative elements and return the clock mechanism to its original state.

The National Museum was founded April 15, 1818, in Prague by Kašpar Maria Šternberg. Historian František Palacký was also involved. The museum was originally in the Šternberg Palace.

The current main museum building was built by Czech neo-Renaissance architect Josef Schulz from 1885 to '91 on the site of several palaces.

The building was damaged by a bomb during World War II in 1945 but the collections were in storage. The museum reopened in 1947, and in 1960 exterior night floodlighting was installed.

The facade was damaged in 1968 during the Soviet-led invasion when it was mistaken for a government building and shot at from tanks. The museum was also damaged during the construction of the metro in 1972 and 1978. The opening of the magistrála highway in 1978 cut the building off from Wenceslas Square. This also led a high level of dust and constant vibrations from road traffic. The current renovations are meant to stabilize the building against damage from the vibrations and fix other structural problems.

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