Culture

 

Sculptor discovers monument by National Museum was actually dedicated to Jan Palach

 
photo:  (radio.cz)
 

A sculptor tasked with reconstructing the communist era pylon in front of the National Museum’s New Building has discovered old documents which show the monument’s author, Czech architect Karel Prager, dedicated it to Jan Palach, who set himself alight and died in 1969, in protest of the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. The museum is now considering restoring the original memorial.

 
 

At the top of Wenceslas Square stands the Historical building of the National Museum and to its right the museum’s New Building, which used to be Czechoslovakia’s Federal Assembly building and later the headquarters of Radio Free Europe.

Currently, the Historical building, as well as the pylon in front of the New Building, are both undergoing reconstruction.

The man tasked with planning the restoration of the latter, is sculptor Antonín Kašpar. He was also the man who made the shocking discovery that the monument was originally intended for Jan Palach.

“When I went through the original static drawings and Prager’s proposals I came across a document from the Gamma Atelier [Karel Prager was its director] from 1991, where Mr Prager is planning the full rehabilitation of Palach’s pylon.”

The discovery surprised many, as Prager never went public with the idea, despite continuing to be professionally active after the Velvet Revolution. Mr. Kašpar explains however, that Prager had a special respect for Palach, who burned himself on Wenceslas Square right next to the museum building.

“Prager’s son was in the tram at the moment that Palach burned himself. He stepped out and saw it with his own eyes. Furthermore, Prager himself was building the Federal Assembly at that time, which is nearby, so he was closely connected to that spot. Palach’s act hit both Prager and his son hard.”

The monument was originally supposed to have a granite sculpture of a flame placed inside it, but this was dismissed by the communist authorities, who instead demanded Prager place the Czechoslovak coat of arms into the structure accompanied by verses from the constitution. Only a plaster model of the original flame design survives.

The original plan for the restoration counted on hanging a symbolic repository for the Charter 77 documents, whose signatories used to meet nearby.

Restoring the flame sculpture commemorating Palach’s deed is not yet part of the project, but in an interview for Czech Television the Deputy Director of the museum, Michal Stehlík, said that he saw the discovered documents as “a summons” to its restoration.

 
Author: Český rozhlas Radio Praha
 
Added: 18.09.2018
 
 
 

Related articles

 
Culture
 
 

Ondřej Sekora: Ferdy the Ant creator...

Ondřej Sekora is perhaps best-known as the author of the beloved cartoon character Ferda Mravenec or...

 
 
Culture
 
 

Stories of Czechs in America told...

In a book just out, the renowned Czech author and illustrator Renáta Fučíková tells the story of Czechs...

 
 
Culture
 
 

Kafka’s sketchbook among documents...

The National Library of Israel has started digitising a long-lost batch of archival materials, belonging...

 
Most favourite

History of Czech fine art

What happened in the realm of fine art at the very beginning of the Czech…

Climate

The Czech Republic is a landlocked country located in moderate geographical…

The most significant current discoveries

During the last decade, Czech science has made many revolutionary discoveries…

Czech language

The Czech language belongs to the group of West Slavic languages. From another…

Traditional Czech products

Czech industrial production has a long tradition, and many products are known…

Traditional Czech products

Czech industrial production has a long tradition, and many products are known…

 
 

Facebook recent activity