Velvet Revolution plaque to move

The building on Národní třída is undergoing renovation

The memorial plaque for the Velvet Revolution on Národní třída is going to move due to the renovation of the passage in Kaňkův palác. It will go from inside the passage to the outside of the building to reduce the risk of fire from candles.

The bronze plaque, designed by Krátký a Otakar Příhoda, has the text 17.11.1989 and shows nine upraised hands showing a V for victory. It has been on the passage wall since 1990 to commemorate the student uprising of Nov. 17, 1989, which led to the downfall of communism in Czechoslovakia.

Kaňkův palác, unlike the rest of the buildings on the street, extends to the edge of the sidewalk, and a walkway had been created through the building. As part of the renovation, the sidewalk is being extended around the building and the current passage will be enclosed and redesigned.

The building is owned by the Czech Bar Association (ČAK). Candles in the past have set fire to memorial wreaths and ribbons, and damaged the pavement and wall. Building staff has had to use fire extinguishers and at times the fire department had to be called. The situation puts people who work in the building at risk, according to ČAK.

After consultations with the historical preservationists, ČAK has decided to put the plaque in a more open space and to return the building to its original design by restoring the passage, which was altered in 1953 due to narrowing of the sidewalk for tram lines.

Candles and wreaths can now be put in front of the plaque in a more dignified and open setting, with less risk of fire to the building. More people will be able to be in front of the plaque at one time as well. In the past, crowds were so large on Nov. 17. that entry to the passage had to be restricted.

The passage will be converted into a gallery dedicated to human rights issues. The conversion should be finished in the fall.

In 2009, the plaque was a target of guerrilla artist Roman Týc, who added hands raised in a Nazi salute for 1939 and hands showing the middle finger for 2009, making a comment on the politics of the time.

Kaňkův palác, also called Schirdingovský palác, was designed in Baroque Classical style by architect Jan Ferdinand Hübner and built between 1731 and 1752. It is named for lawyer Jan Nepomuk Kanka, who bought it in 1838.

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