Prague restoring many public statues

Over two dozen projects are intended to reverse decades of neglect

The Prague City Gallery, which oversees much of the art that is in public, including the statues on Charles Bridge, will be undertaking several expensive repair and restoration projects.

The city-run institution will spend Kč 15,869,200 (excluding VAT) this year on ongoing and new projects related to the restoration, maintenance, preservation and cleaning of public sculptures and monuments.

About Kč 10 million is for projects expected to start this year. Over Kč 5 million is for repairs of sculptures on Charles Bridge.

“The Prague City Gallery's activity does not only extend to exhibitions, but also to the care of works of art, including statues and monuments. This year a total of 27 projects are expected to be started or completed. In connection with the long-term renovation of Charles Bridge, this includes the restoration of eight sculptures or sculptural elements on the bridge,” Prague City Councilor Jan Wolf (KDU-ČSL) said on the City Hall website.

In total, there are 20 ongoing projects. Among the projects expected to be completed within a few months are the preservation of the Monument of St. Wenceslas on Wenceslas Square and the monument called Prague to Her Victorious Sons, dedicated to the Czechoslovak Legionnaires at náměstí Pod Emauzy. Next year the restoration of the Virgin Mary column on Hradčanské náměstí should be completed.

Projects that are expected to start this year include the restoration of more statues on Charles Bridge, the statue of sv Filip z Neri (St Philip Neri) by Jan Brokoff on the rampart of Staré zámecké schody leading to Prague Castle, and the statue of sv. Jan Nepomucký (John Nepomucene) in Spálená Street in Prague 1.

The restoration of the bronze figures of the František Palacký monument at Palackého náměstí is expected to be finished by November 2018 at a cost of Kč 2.5 million (excluding VAT). In July, work will begin on four sculptures from the bridge Palackého most. They have been located at Vyšehrad since World War II. The work should last until May 2019 and cost Kč 2 million (excluding VAT).

The four figures by Josef Václav Myslbek depict pairs of figures from early Czech legends.

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, the Monument to Medics, somewhat hidden on the premises of the Faculty Hospital on Karlovo náměstí, is being restored at a total cost of Kč 1.5 million (excluding VAT). The pillar with two figures, a wall of names and a concrete circle for a pool has long been in very poor condition.

“It is also necessary to take into account the considerable expenses for work connected with the consequences of vandalism. For example, by the end of September, repairs should take place on a damaged staff on the statue of sv Vojtech (St Adelbert) and broken hands on the sculpture of sv. Jan z Mathy (st John of Matha) on Charles Bridge. These repairs cost hundreds of thousands of crowns and are an unfortunate product of the large increase in tourism,” Wolf said.

“Currently our aim in the field of tourism is to focus on visitors and tourists who are heading to Prague for its cultural and historical heritage, and not primarily for cheap beer, 'beer bikes' and similar attractions. They should behave with due respect,” Wolf said.

Prague City Gallery director Magdalena Juříková said that in recent years, the gallery has been allocated unrivaled funds for the maintenance and restoration of statues in the public space, and in many cases has been able to restore remarkable landmarks. “We have also taken on [restoration of] a number of long-neglected statues in exposed places thanks to increased funding. We, together with the public, are grateful for the help in this previously neglected area of our work,” she said.

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