As every year, we focused on projects realized using funding programmes, namely the Programme for the Care of National Cultural Treasures and the Programme for the Reproduction of the Assets of State Cultural Institutions.
The key project involving the funding programmes was, undoubtedly, the general reconstruction of the Historical Building of the National Museum.
The renovation of the grand museum building, which was in a way a singular project, was run under close scrutiny by the representatives of Heritage Preservation. The ambition was to keep its appearance as close as possible to its original form while sensitively incorporating necessary modern technologies.
Restoration work was finished on the sculptures by the main tower, the statues on the balustrade of the side façade, the sculptural decorations in the central avant-corps, the sculptures in the niches of the corner avant-corps and the sculptures by the main entrance to the building. The stucco decoration of the facades and the sgraffito decoration in the courtyard were renovated.
Parts of the ground floor, the first floor and the second floor were renovated; the original murals on the walls and ceilings were restored, together with the stuccos, the gilding on metal and non-metallic surfaces, the natural and artificial marble, the painted glass ceilings, the oak inlays, the terracotta mosaic, the marble tiles, the structural openings, etc. The large-scale paintings in the Pantheon and the galleries on the main staircase and the staircase to the second floor were restored.
All construction and installation systems have been renovated. Some of the HVAC equipment, the heating, the high- and low-voltage safety systems and other technical equipment of the building was put into operation.
Restoration and professional repair of bronze statues and busts of prominent figures of Czech history, science and culture were completed. The sculptural decorations were installed according to placement plan for the Pantheon and the hall of the grand staircase. Restored historical furniture was placed in the interiors and the professionally repaired lights were reinstalled.
Despite many complications and the time pressure and financial stress that accompanied the work, part of the renovated building was reopened to the public, with the ceremony taking place symbolically on the 28 October 2018, the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the creation of the independent Czechoslovak state. Ca 5,000 m2 of renovated interiors were reopened, namely exhibition halls, the Pantheon, the conference hall, the historical director's office, the grand staircase and the facilities for visitors. Those who viewed the new museum appreciated the results of the exceptionally demanding renovation, compared to the building’s state before reconstruction, which many remembered.
In cooperation with the City of Prague, a fundamental transformation of the immediate surroundings of the museum building took place. In the revitalized, calm space of the ‘museum oasis’, all areas were visually unified by the light granite paving, the colour of which corresponds to that of the renovated facade of the museum building. The greenery, which was neglected for years, underwent a fundamental transformation. The space adjacent to the museum building is now divided by raised tree beds with undergrowth and is bordered by a sitting wall. The replicas of the original cast-iron flagpoles and lampposts on the ramp and historical fencing were put in place, the fountain was fully renovated and new outdoor lighting for special occasions was installed. The general reconstruction of the museum building and the construction of the underground connecting corridor between the Historical and the New Buildings are at an advanced stage, and it is anticipated that the work will be completed in the first half of next year.
Concurrently with the renovation of the museum building, intensive work on the preparation of future exhibitions was underway. Contracts were concluded with the architects of the individual exhibition units, who completed the architectural studies together with the exhibition concept teams. The project documentation for the natural history exhibitions, the Children’s Museum and the multimedia exhibition in the connecting corridor neared completion. The projects for the remaining exhibition units are planned for next year.
In the first half of the year, the test run of the information and control system of the operational unit providing organization of visitor and exhibition operations was completed in the New Building of the National Museum (the former building of the Federal Assembly). Thus the partial renovation of the New Building of the National Museum was completed in accordance with the approved investment plan, while respecting all the material, time and financial parameters of the action.
Another important task last year was the commencement of the construction of the Jan Palach Memorial in Všetaty in Central Bohemia. The commencement of the construction was delayed due to the need to repeat the tender for construction supplier. The reason for the repeated tender was the lack of interest on the side of construction companies. Only the fourth attempt was successful, and the National Museum managed to select the supplier and start the construction of the memorial, which will be finished in the third quarter of next year. The memorial will include a multi-media exhibition which will commemorate the personality and the act of Jan Palach in the context of 1968-69.
In the first half of the year, the depository of the Czech Museum of Music in Litoměřice was equipped with metal sliding-door compactors, stationary shelving racks and custom-made atypical storage systems for particular collections. By fitting the building with equipment, machinery and movables, the conversion of the former artillery barracks into the depository of the Czech Museum of Music was finished while complying with all mandatory binding indicators of the action.
The revitalization of the Náprstek Museum is among the projects that come under funding programmes with a longer time horizon. In 2018 project preparations continued without yet being eligible for funding. A project manager was chosen by tender, and at the end of the year work on the documentation for a public tender for the complete documentation for the revitalization project began.
The table shows the actual funds drawn in 2018 for individual actions, including the state, municipal, and own resources that were spent within the funding programmes.
It is clear from the table above that some of the available resources were not exhausted, for the reasons given below:
- Renovation of the main building – financial performance was affected negatively by the complicated process of approving additional construction work, namely the objectively unpredictable restoration works.
- New permanent exhibitions in the Historical and New Buildings of the National Museum – lower than expected drawing of funds occurred due to the period for the fulfilment of the contract continuing to 2019. In addition, several collection item acquisitions were not realized for legal reasons and will be realized in the following year.
- Jan Palach Memorial in Všetaty – withdrawal of funds was affected negatively by the complicated course of the tender for the construction supplier.
In addition to the projects above, the National Museum implemented a number of smaller actions that contributed to the development, renewal and modernization of the material and technical base. These actions were financed solely or partially from the asset reproduction fund. The National Museum drew on the given resources, for example: to build a transition chamber for cooled depositories in the Terezín II depository; to restore the monumental pylon-shaped steel sculpture in front of the New NM building; to build a radioscopic workplace in the depository of the Natural History Museum in Horní Počernice, etc.
In addition to subsidies from the state budget, the NM also plans to involve the asset reproduction fund in 2019 as a complementary source for material and technical base renovation, including, in particular, innovative information and communication technologies and repairs to the unsatisfactory construction and technical condition of the buildings