Babies returning to Žižkov TV Tower

New, sturdier copies are being put back where the originals were

The Babies are finally returning to the Žižkov TV Tower. The original sculptures by artist David Černý were removed in October 2017 for cleaning, but it was soon decided that it would be more practical to make new copies that could be mounted more securely to the tower.

The operator of the tower, České Radiokomunikace, began installing new mounts March 22, and the copies are lined up and waiting to be put in place. The installation should take several days, with climbers on ropes putting the Babies (Miminka) back where they belong.

The new way of anchoring the sculptures has prompted a change in the internal load-bearing steel structure, including a change in materials. The copies of the Babies look exactly the same on the outside, while they will newly designed infrastructure inside.

“Together with the author of the Babies sculptures, after a thorough examination of the condition of the originals, we decided to produce new ones and at the same time innovate the way they were anchored. The original Babies were returned to David Černý,” České Radiokomunikace director Vít Vážan said.

The cost of making the copies reached several million crowns.

The Babies were placed on the tower in 2000 as part of the Prague: European City of Culture, a yearlong arts festival. It was supposed to be a temporary installation but proved very popular, and became permanent in 2001.

According to the agreement between the tower owner and David Černý, the new sculptures will be in place for another 20 years, after which ownership will be transferred to České Radiokomunikace.

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 an upside-down 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.

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. The futuristic design was said to clash with the typical Prague architecture.

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

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