At the onset of preparations of new permanent exhibitions of the National Museum (NM) in 2011, it was necessary to define their content. Several expert teams composed of NM staff and other institutions took part in this process. Historical topics were embraced in a novel perspective, their comprehensive presentation was so far absent in the NM. Social science expositions in the History exhibition will map the development of society from the Early Middle Ages until the end of the 20th century. The People exhibition will interlink the topics of anthropology, archaeology and classical archaeology. Natural science topics will be elaborated on three levels – nature around us, stories of evolution, and an experimental area (ExperiMus). They will reveal processes affecting the shape and transformations of Earth. The Social and Natural science parts will be linked through the Treasury exhibition. The Pantheon and the Children’s Museum will form completely independent units. The architecture of exhibitions will be the result of public tenders conducted in compliance with the Act on Public Contracts. New expositions of the NM are to be opened in 2019 (Natural science) and 2020 (Social science) on a total area of 12 000 m2.
Jiří Moravec, Petr Benda, Petr Dolejš, Jiří Hájek, Jaroslav Hlaváč, Jiří Mlíkovský and Radek Šanda
The new zoological exposition of the National Museum will be installed in eight exhibition halls on the second floor of the Historical Building. The exposition has the preliminary title Evolution and thematically, it will follow several significant evolutionary events, which enabled animals to occupy Earth. The first two exhibition halls will be devoted to invertebrates and their ability to occupy all kinds of environments. The following two exhibition halls will introduce fish-like vertebrates, amphibians, and reptiles and they will focus on the most important evolutionary step of vertebrates – stepping out of the water and onto land. The next hall will be devoted to the origin of flight and birds’ conquering of the skies. The last two halls will be dedicated to mammals and their origins and conquering of land, water, and air. The visitor will become acquainted with contemporary organisms as the results of a long evolutionary process. The exhibitions will be based on authentic collection items to the maximum possible extent, though models and multimedia will also be used on several occasions. The exposition should also include the restoration of the popular Pokoutník Gallery.
The prepared exhibition of the experimentarium museum ExperiMus is of an unconventional format, which had gradually evolved from the exhibition project The Story of Planet Earth. The development aimed towards greater interactivity and adaptability of the given space. ExperiMus is designed to provide lectured and non-lectured educative activities based on simple and compelling experiments. Its format is similar to the science centre but it is aimed at animate and inanimate nature. The goal of the exposition is to link the relationships between various disciplines and to explore analogies. Close cooperation with educational institutions and the media is envisaged in both running and marketing of the exhibition.
The National Museum (NM) is preparing several temporary exhibitions in all of its buildings, along with preparing new permanent exhibitions in the New and Historical Buildings. All parts of the National Museum are incorporated in the preparation of new exhibitions, i.e. the Historical Museum, Natural History Museum, Czech Museum of Music, Náprstek Museum and the National Museum Library. In 2017, these exhibition projects are: Light and Life, Masaryk as a Phenomenon, and Indians. In 2018, the National Museum will present the Czech-Slovak / Slovak-Czech exhibition, which will reflect the 100th anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia, together with selected moments of Czechoslovakian history and the relationship of these two nations. 2019 could bring the opening of the grand Egyptology exposition Sun Kings and also new Natural history expositions. The remaining permanent expositions should be opened in 2020. The exhibitions in this period will likely recall some important anniversaries (1620, 1920). In future years, the renovation of the Czech Museum of Music and Náprstek Museum will take place.
The ambition of the Children’s Museum exposition, which is being created in the New Building of the National Museum, is to offer visitors a space for entertainment, relaxation and education. The exposition will introduce them, in an entertaining way, the natural and cultural heritage of the Czech lands in connection with unique exhibits of the new expositions in the Historical Building of the National Museum. The visitors will go through various historical events by means of the “time machine” of a scientist. The exposition will utilise a number of mechanical interactive elements, as well as modern audio-visual media. The creative team, composed mainly of museum pedagogues, will make use of their vast experience of working with children.
Eva Doležalová, Marie Šedivá Koldinská, Martin Sekera, Jana Mezerová and Marek Junek
The exposition named History will present the development of the Czech lands from the 9th century till the present. The exposition will be divided into two separate spaces – the Historical Building of the National Museum will house the history of the 9th–19th centuries and the New Building of the National Museum will house the history from the 20th century. Despite reflecting to a certain extent the traditional division of the Middle Ages, Early Modern Period, the “long” 19th century, and the 20th century, the narrative will be continuous without any artificial historical disruptions. We will debunk some historical myths and stereotypes. Emphasis will be laid on the presentation of items from the collections of the National Museum. A certain update will also be important, i.e. the presentation of ideas and symbols, that we refer to today. Parallel narratives will be nonetheless important, as they will show that history is not unambiguous and that certain events can be viewed from several different perspectives (e.g. the winner and the loser, nobleman and subject). Last but not least, we will address the issues of individual freedom and its limits.
Nature (Příroda) is an aggregate of more or less separate permanent natural science exhibitions. These are focused on mineralogy, meteorites and tektites, famous ore deposits and mines of the Czech Republic, prehistorical development of Czech territory, mycology and botany. The majority of “Nature” is devoted to geosciences, whereas contemporary nature of the Czech Republic will be presented in a series of multidisciplinary temporary exhibitions focused on individual phenomena of (not only) Czech nature and on the interrelations of man and nature. The mineralogical exhibition will be installed in its original location and historical furniture being a reminder of the original exhibits that have been preserved intact since the end of the 19th century.
The closing of the Historical Building of the National Museum due to renovation meant a significant interference with not only statistics of the visiting rates but also with the functioning of the institution and its communication with the public. The closure was and still is most of all a great challenge with regards to not only the preparation of new expositions, the form of which is occasionally discussed in the media, but also with regards to a new style of communication with the public and visitor care. This challenge concerns the Historical Building, which will be gradually opened during the years 2018–2022, but also the whole institution of the National Museum.
The Pantheon has been the heart of the National Museum ever since its foundation. It was intended to serve the role of honouring personalities of Czech history, science, and culture. The composition of the busts and statues of represented personalities changed over time due to the current political and social situation. It was necessary to define its future form in the context of the renovation. In 2017, discussions of its composition raised the interest of the media and the public. Several possibilities of the new Pantheon were considered, the National Museum finally chose to return to the state of 1948 (55 busts and statues). The Pantheon gallery will exhibit the changes of the compositions throughout time.